Charles looked up, trying to catch a glimpse of his surroundings. Though however hard he tried, his eyes kept swelling beyond control. All he could think about was the last few seconds he had experienced. He vaguely remembered standing up, a pain beyond explaining – shooting from his back and up into his spine – and recollasping.
Which brought him back to where he was. Laying in the sand, pain pulsing through every part of his body, tears flooding in his eyes. Stop attacking like an idiot Charles, he told himself. You have more strength than this. And with that, he attempted to stand up. But that idea left as soon as it came. His legs felt incapable of holding any weight. Finally accepting his predicament, he slowly laid himself down onto the ground.
However, before he could fully lie down, a hand caught his head instead.
Watching his friend collapse before his eyes, Erik forgot about everything around him. He lost all concentration on everything else and darted toward his friend. He leaped over Charles and his head before it could touch the ground.
“I’m sorry…I didn’t kno…I didn’t realize…” Erik said, trying to hold back any tears. He looked at his friend’s condition. Erik sensed a piece of metal lodged in Charles’s back. With as much caution as possible, he slowly pulled out the bullet, retracing its path. “If only I’d known. I could have…” but he stopped. In front of him stood Moria. “You. You did this.” She shot the bullet. It was her fault Charles was laying in the pain he was. Erik’s thoughts filled with rage.
“No.” Erik stopped his hatred thoughts. “No, you did this my friend,” Charles gasped out, each word hurting as much as the next.
Any thought of harming Moria left. Charles was right. He did this. It was his fault Charles laid in front of him in pain. If this is what’s to become of me, Erik thought, hurting the few people that care for me, about me, then what am I doing?
Charles watched as Erik’s face changed from extreme hatred, to calmer saddening thoughts. He considered entering his friend’s mind, but thought against it. Not only did he want Erik to think this through on his own, he couldn’t imagine the pain it would inflict upon himself.
Charles watched as Erik signaled over the others. Before he knew it, he saw the faces of his friends – his family – leaning over him. He wanted them to be smiling, excited over their stopping of the next world war. However hard he wished for it, it would never come true. All five of them looked concerned. A few had tears rolling down their faces. The others were clearly holding some back.
“Professor, I need you to remain still,” Hank spoke out. “There is very possible spine damage in which case I need you to remain where you are, preventing any other injury.”
Charles gave a slight nod and held out his hand. To his relief, Raven was there to grab it. Out of everyone, she appeared the most worried. It will be okay he thought to her, then wincing at the pain it caused him. She gripped his hand tighter.
“We need to get you to a hospital Professor. If we gave you support, would you be able to balance?” Hank said quickly, trying to rush the matter along.
“No.” Hank stared at Charles. Charles’s hand still in Raven’s, “I can’t feel my legs.”
Raven felt her brother’s grip loosen.
Charles’s vision went black.
Erik stepped away from the group. He watched the others gather around Charles. He felt unworthy. This is my fault. His friend last word’s still rang in his head, “I can’t feel my legs.” I did this. Massive waves of guilt went through Erik’s thoughts. If anything he thought, anything beyond repair happens… He stopped himself. He couldn’t think like that. Charles will be fine. But he knew that was a lie. He can’t feel his legs…
“Erik,” Hank called out, in tone that made it seem it wasn’t his first time calling out to him. “We need you over here.”
Erik gave a slight nod and quickly kneeled by his best friend’s side. He thought about apologizing again, but Hank interrupted that thought.
“Erik, I need you to create a platform. Preferably using the metal around us. It needs to be able to hold, and fit the Professor. From there we can lift him…” but Erik tuned out and began his project.
It was much more difficult than one would expect. Sure, there was a lot of metal nearby. However, much of the metal was warped beyond repair. Or more so warped beyond repair for his certain state of being. There was no way that he was finding a point between rage and serenity with Charles laying in that crippled position at his cause.
If Erik did indeed find a usable piece of metal, it was too small to hold his limber friend. Erik paused his frantic thoughts. He took a deep breath, and began to feel the metal around him. The presence of Shaw’s submarine was obvious, but Erik couldn’t allow himself to use any of its metal. Shaw was the reason for them being on the beach. Shaw was behind all of it. Erik couldn’t use something of his to help Charles.
Erik was about to cave when he felt other metal. The Blackbird, he thought. He immediately darted to their jet. Quickly breaking off a chunk, Erik smoothed out a platform and levitated it over to the others.
Hank seemed impatient by the time that Erik finally got the homemade stretcher to him. “Okay, Erik, I need you to help me get the Professor onto this platform. We have to keep him as still as possible, along with trying to keep him in his current position,” Hank explained.
Erik did as he was told, and before they knew it, Charles was floating on a metal platform that was being levitated by Erik.
“Azazel,” Erik said. The red mutant turned towards him. “I don’t know what Shaw promised you, but you must understand. I knew Shaw; he would have never carried through with his end of the deal. If you teleport us to a hospital, anything, everything, you did with Shaw will be forgotten. You can stay with us. Train with us. You and your friends. Just teleport us.” Please he thought.
Hank stared at Erik in pure amazement.
“Let us go free, and we will help you,” Azazel replied. Erik paused. Would Charles want these mutants out on their own? But before he could refuse…
“Okay,” Hank said, questioning Erik’s uncertainty. “Erik, I need you to keep Charles floating as he is. Make sure you keep one hand on him, and one on the platform, guaranteeing that both pieces teleport with us. Everyone else, I need to make sure you all hold onto each other. Make sure someone is touching Erik, and that we all are connected to Azazel.” Hank took a pause and turned to the red mutant. “We need to get to a hospital, preferably one in New York.”
“I know just the one.”
“Good. Everyone ready?” Hank asked. A few nodded.
Erik grasped Charles hand. Hold on my friend.
And they were gone.
The group of mutants watched the scenery change from a sandy beach of misery, to a cluster of scratchy bushes. Erik understood that they needed to appear hidden, but he questioned whether the bushes were necessary.
“Okay, well obviously I can’t go in there without causing a commotion,” Hank said, referring to his blue fur. “Moria, I want you to make sure that everything goes smoothly in there. Use your CIA clearance if necessary.” Moria nodded. “I will take Raven, Alex, and Sean back to the X-Mansion.” Raven looked like she was ready to protest, but Hank didn’t allow that to happen. He turned to look at Azazel, “We are done with your assistance. Unless you wish to change your mind and stay with us, you may go.” And with that, the three of them were gone.
Which left Erik. Erik let out a huge sigh, not sure of what was about to be said. “Well we clearly can’t have you levitating Charles in there. So if you are able to get Charles out more in the open and Moria, if you could go off and get help…” Moria nodded and ran off. Hank turned back to Erik, “Where you go after this does not matter to me. Just leave the Professor alone.”
“Why does he get to choo…?” Raven tried to protest. Erik understood. He moved Charles out onto the sidewalk. He glanced at his friend one last time, and walked into the down town city of New York.
Moria ran into the main lobby of the hospital, her CIA badge flapping in her outstretched hand, “I’ve got a seriously injured man outside this hospital.” Before she could even ask for help, a team of people ran out the door pushing a stretcher.
She ran to catch up to them. By the time she got outside, Hank and the kids were gone, Charles was being hoisted onto the stretcher, and Erik’s distinct silhouette was growing smaller into the distance. Great. I’m alone on this one.
Moria hoped that Charles’s blue and yellow suit wouldn’t attract too much attention. Then again, she told herself, this is New York City.
As the doctors wheeled Charles into the ER, one doctor stayed back to listen to Moria’s vague story. She said what needed to be said, but nothing more. A bullet had hit Charles Xavier in the back. The bullet had been removed, but Charles had claimed to have lost feeling in his legs before blacking out. It couldn’t have happened more than a half hour ago. Things such as where, how, and why were left unanswered.
With that, the doctor stood up and walked away.
Leaving Moria all to herself.
Erik gazed out at the bright city of New York. He couldn’t understand why everyone seemed so normal. Their country almost just entered World War III, he thought to himself, and they’re running amuck trying to catch the bus so they can get the perfect deal on that perfect pair of shoes. Or that perfect dress. Or that great job interview.
Erik knew that the right thing to do was leave and never think about Charles again. Forget everything. However, he knew from personal experience that that was easier said than done. He had tried every day of his life to forget what he experienced as a kid. Shaw. The camps. Everything. No matter how hard he tried, Erik could never forget what he had been through.
And he knew he would never forget what he did to Charles. And for that reason, Erik turned around and headed back to the hospital.
By the time Erik returned to the hospital, he knew that he must have been gone at least two hours. When he entered the waiting room, Moria was asleep on the couch. Erik sat in one of the chairs and thought about doing the same.
When his eyes were half way closed, he immediately forced them back open. A man in a white jacket stood in the door frame. “Moria MacTaggert?” the man asked for. He called her name three more times before she woke up. Moria slowly sat up from the couch. She looked across the room. When her eyes met Erik’s, he saw one of the most terrifying glares he’d ever encountered.
“Ms. MacTaggert?” the man asked again.
“I need to talk to you in private. But first I need to know, do you have any family relations with Mr. Xavier?” he spoke very solemnly.
“No, we are just friends. I was there when the accident happened.” Moria answered.
“Okay, if you would just follow me down the hall,” the doctor said while glancing at Erik.
As he was closing the door, Erik said as calmly as possible, “I’m his brother.”
The doctor caught the door and pushed it back open. “Then you better come with us too.”
His friend would never walk again. And it was his fault. He dwelled upon the bullet that ended up severing his friend’s spine. He was the cause of the wheelchair Charles would live in for the rest of his life.
“We are moving Mr. Xavier to a different room. When everything is set, his immediate family may visit him.” The doctor turned to look at Moria, “I’m truly sorry to say this Ms. MacTaggert, but as you are only a friend, I cannot allow you to visit Charles until he is in a better state. I’m afraid even your CIA clearance won’t let you in unless you are researching the case.” Moria gave him a slight nod, and the doctor signaled them out the door.
“O, and Mr. Xavier?” the doctor spoke out. Erik gave a slightly delayed reaction, almost forgetting that the doctor thought they were brothers.
“Yes?” Erik asked, turning around.
“If you sit out in the waiting area, I can call you back when your brother is ready.”
Erik gave him a nod, “O. And please, call me Erik.” Please. And he headed down the hallway.
Moria didn’t even make eye contact with him. “I’m going back to the mansion,” was all she spat out before she walked out of the waiting room.
Erik mentally flipped around the metal coins in his pocket. Why did I say I was his brother? he asked himself. Why couldn’t I just have been a friend? Erik was nervous. I promised Hank I’d leave him alone. Erik had never felt this nervous before in all of his life. Including everything in the camps, nothing had worried him like what may be in store for him next. Does Charles even want to see me? He felt the metal doorknob to the hallway turn. No backing out now.
“Erik? We’re ready for you now.”
“You can go in when you are ready,” a nurse told Erik and walked away. He took a deep breath and looked down. The blue coat the nurse gave him was over his black turtleneck. He had left his jacket back in the waiting room. He took one more deep breath and manually opened the door.
Erik’s glance quickly caught sight of his friend before he could take in anything around the room. He refused to look at anything else. His eyes began to sting. Charles, to his relief, was asleep, but it still hurt Erik to look at him. His eyes were peacefully closed, and he was lying on his back. That much he could handle. It was the cords that bothered Erik’s mind. Endless amounts of wire were attached to what seemed like every open inch of Charles’s skin.
Oh my god, he thought to himself. Charles, what have I done to you? He quickly walked over to his friend’s bedside and kneeled down next to him. He grasped Charles’s hand and placed it on his own forehead. I’m so sorry Charles. He must have stayed like that for at least ten minutes. He only picked up his head up when he heard the door open.
The doctor who he had talked to earlier stood in the doorway. “I’m sorry Erik, but you’ll need to leave soon. Mr. Xavier needs his rest.” That was when Erik noticed his surroundings.
Surrounding the walls of the room was drawers upon drawers. Cupboards upon cupboards. Erik could only imagine what was inside them. Memories from Shaw’s ‘hospital’ flooded back. The number tattooed in his arm burned. I can’t leave Charles here all night by himself with these madmen.
“No…I have to stay here…”
“I’m sorry Erik, but that’s not an option,” the doctor said, beginning to sound irritated.
Charles. Help me, he thought to the telepath, but he knew he could never hear him.
Charles Xavier’s day had been a daze, constantly zoning in and out and falling back asleep took up most of the day. He had no idea where he was and what had happened. If he ever came close to grasping an idea, he passed back out. He was far too weak to reach out into someone nearby’s mind. He was about to doze off again until he heard a voice. A voice in his head. It was a voice he knew all too well. A voice of a friend.
Help me Charles, the voice screamed again. Not seconds later, Charles heard the voice again, only this time, it wasn’t inside his head.
“No.” Erik said very sternly. “You do not understand. I NEED to stay here.” Please Charles, Erik whispered in his head again.
Charles eyes were closed, but he sensed another person in the room. He knew it must have been the person causing Erik’s distress. With all the strength Charles had left, he communicated to the man. Erik can stay.
And with that, the professor drifted back into a heavy sleep.
“You can stay tonight.” The words shocked Erik. He had no idea what to expect, but whatever it was, it wasn’t that. He had planned possibly sneaking back in through the metal window frame, but he could handle what the doctor just said.
Erik nodded appreciatively. The doctor excited the room.
He found an unused blanket at the foot of Charles’s bed and carried it over to the couch. He laid down and tossed the blanket over himself.
Erik had no idea what had just happened, but he was okay with it.
Erik swore that he heard Charles respond, Good-night Erik, but he knew he must have imagined it.
After Moria walked out of the hospital, she signaled for a taxi. He didn’t seem too pleased to be driving up state this late at night, but when she showed him she could pay for the long ride, he agreed to it.
After at least two hour drive in a cab that reeked of old Chinese food and fat men, she had reached her destination. It was a small motel, only a few blocks from the X-Mansion. She paid the cabbie his money and watched him drive away. She walked the last few blocks herself.
The walk gave her time to reconfirm her plan on the drive out on how she was going to tell the kids. She reassured herself that everything would work out. Why do I have to tell them? She knew the answer to her question, but why?
Before she knew it, she was opening the front door to one of the largest houses she had ever seen. After wandering through the mansion, she finally found everyone in one of the many sitting rooms. Not to her surprise, they were watching the news, most likely listening to hear anything about themselves.
Moria walked across the room and turned off the TV. Not until the screen went completely black did anyone notice she was standing there.
“I have something to say,” Moria said to the group, “but first, I think everyone should sit down.”
Moria realized her mistake. Everyone was already sitting down. She had already messed up her plan of attack.
And worst of all, everyone in the room knew something was up.
Hank had suspicions of his own about results of Charles’s injury. Throughout the many hours since they had left the beach he convinced himself that any and all of his predictions were false. He had stayed true to that thought until he saw Moria’s worried face.
Moria began to explain what she remembered of the doctor’s explanation. There were many times where Hank knew what Moria was saying was wrong. She wasn’t lying; she just did not understand the science behind it all. During those times, Hank could have easily corrected her, but he held himself back. He knew no one around him would appreciate it. On top of that, he didn’t dare speaking, as his earlier suspicions became more and more likely. After 10 minutes of Moria’s so-so explanation, all of Hank’s predictions were proved correct.
“Charles’s is partially paralyzed,” Moria whispered very gravely. The room was silent for a good minute or so.
“Partially, as in he’ll get better over time?” Raven asked, trying to find a glimmer of hope.
Moria gloomily shook her head. “Partially paralyzed meaning part of his body. Waist down to be more specific.” A few of the mutants let out a small gasp, but quickly pulled any other feelings back inside. “Your professor’s spine was severed by the bullet, losing all of his mind’s control towards his legs. There is little to no chance of him ever walking again.”
Hank looked around the room at his fellow mutants. He caught light bouncing off the tears on every one of their faces. Hank even saw the smallest tear along Moria’s nose. He sensed the sadness looming over everyone in the room. With that, a small crystal like tear slid down the furry blue mutant’s face.
Everyone sat quietly, concealed in their own thoughts. No one stood or said anything until Moria pointed out the time saying everyone should already be in bed. Hank knew that no one would sleep easily tonight, but the comfort of their beds may be partly reassuring. Even if it had been the Professor who had supplied them.
Everyone slowly got up, walked out of the sitting room’s door, and walked down the halls in various directions to get to their rooms.
Raven walked into her room and staggered to her bed. She didn’t even bother to put on her pajamas. She hid her face in her pillow and sobbed. It was nights like these – nights where she felt anxious, alone, and depressed – when she would normally get up and walk down the hall to her brother’s room. Only a few doors down from her own, the closeness of their rooms helped her feel safe. Especially those first few nights she had stayed here when she was much younger.
Even recently, when she was older, she felt protected by feeling Charles’s mind present around her. No one had ever told him how much he lost control of his power at night. Everyone enjoyed the constant feeling of safety.
With Charles’s absence, Raven felt vulnerable. She couldn’t sleep. She doubted anyone else in the estate was easily falling asleep. She got up off her bed, walked to the door, and out into the hallway, hoping no one had the same idea she just did.
Sean laid on his bed staring up at the ceiling. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt like this. Even the feeling he felt when he let out his first earsplitting scream didn’t come close to matching what he felt right now.
He looked around his room, trying to take everything in without tearing up. Look at everything Charles has done for me. When none of my family decided to accept me, he – out of pure good will – took me in. Not only that, but he trained me, taught me how to control my power. He taught me how to love it. Sean lost any control he still had, and felt a few tears squeak out of his eyes.
He did all of that for me, Sean thought to himself, and now, the one time he is in need, I can’t do anything.
Alex had never been sad before. The day he was taken away from his mother was one of his happiest moments ever. He thought back to at the beach and became furious. He could have stopped Erik. If only he had. Then everything would be normal right now.
The stress was overwhelming to Alex. He needed to let some of it out. He walked out his bedroom door and headed down to the bunker that he had trained in only a few weeks prior.
He headed toward a staircase. As he walked down the hallway he noticed a silhouette up ahead.
As the silhouette grew closer he recognized it to be Raven. When she noticed Alex, she stopped and stared at him. “O…hey Alex,” she said, sounding slightly confused.
Great. Now what. “Uh, what are you doing?”
Raven stuttered, “Um…I was just going to get a glass of water. Though I should ask you the same question?”
Alex replied with the only things he could think of, “Ha. I was actually just doing the same.” He could tell Raven didn’t believe him, but she didn’t say anything.
The two of them walked to the kitchen and drank their unplanned-for cups of water in silence. After about ten minutes Alex stood up from the table. “Well, I should probably go back to bed,” Alex said.
They both headed for different stair cases. Once Alex reached his, instead of going up, he went down. He walked down to the bunker to let go of some of the stress still tangled inside of him.
Raven walked back up the stairs after her unexpected intermission. However once she reached her door, she continued walking. She walked past a few more doors until she reached Charles’s room.
She opened the door and walked in. If it was at all possible, Raven felt slightly calmer by the reassurance of Charles’s scent. His room looked the same as ever. Nice tidy bookcases lined most of the walls. A half played game of chess was left on the coffee table by the couch. His bed was made as perfectly as in an advertisement.
Raven walked over to the bed and pulled back the sheets. She laid down and covered herself up again. Even if her brother wasn’t there, she felt more protected.
The blue mutant slid off into an undisturbed sleep.
Erik tossed and turned all night, thought that wasn’t anything new. On any normal night, he would have nightmare after nightmare. Nightmares were just one of the many wonderful side effects of knowing Shaw. Another restless night felt like any other in the mansion.
Erik could sense the sun shining in though his closed eyes. When he finally decided to open his eyes, he realized he wasn’t in his bed at the X-Mansion. He looked around and recognized the hospital room. The memories of the day before came flooding back, and Erik realized Charles being paralyzed, was in fact not a nightmare. It was merely the truth.
Erik’s gaze turned to Charles and a pang of guilt hit him. Will I ever not feel that pain? he asked himself. If I always will, should I even bother staying? Luckily, for Erik, he didn’t need to answer that because the nurse walked in. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Erik on the couch.
“Did you stay here all night?” she asked.
“O…Okay then,” she muttered. Erik could tell she didn’t believe him, but she didn’t push the matter either. She walked around Charles checking up on various things. Erik kept a stern eye on her, making sure she didn’t do anything funny.
“We are expecting Mr. Xavier to wake-up sometime today. You are welcome to stay here and wait for him to wake, or you can go and we will contact you when he is up,” the nurse explained.
“I’ll stay.” Erik wasn’t sure if the first person Charles would want to see was him, but there was no way he was leaving him alone.
“Ok, well in that case, when he does awake, you can choose to tell him yourself about his…injury…or you could have one of our doctors break the news.” Erik nodded. The nurse took a short pause and continued, “Do you know which way you would prefer?”
“No. Not yet.” The nurse understood. She checked one last thing and walked out of the door.
The entire day Erik sat on the couch absorbed in his thoughts, casually glancing up every so often to see if Charles showed any signs of life. Throughout the whole day, various doctors and nurses came in to check on Charles. Few of them even acknowledged Erik’s presence.
When lunch came around, no matter how much the nurses urged him to leave and get food he refused to. He hadn’t left Charles yet, and he wasn’t planning on doing it now.
As the day went on, the nurses began to tell Erik that Charles might not wake up ‘til the next day. Erik heard the constant remarks, but never let it show. It was late in the day, well past dark, when Erik knew he would be talking face to face with his telepathic friend that night.
Erik watched Charles begin to stir from his previously unchanged position. As Charles moved, he continued to stay on his back. Is he even capable of rolling over?
Erik tensed and braced for impact. However Charles reacted when he woke up, he was ready. Or so he hoped.
Charles laid in bed awake, refusing to open his eyes. It was the most awake he had been during his whole time on the strange bed. He knew that the moment he opened his eyes he would have to deal with some story on where he was and why. Charles didn’t remember anything at the moment, and he liked it that way.
Charles could tell he was high on Morphine. His telepathic capabilities were significantly weaker. He tried to reach out to any nearby minds, but he could only fell the presence of one. And with his grogginess, there was no way he would be able to enter the mind. Finally feeling like he was awake enough to take whatever he was in for, Charles opened his eyes.
The light flooded quickly into his eyes, and he snapped them back closed. He tried again, slowly opening his eyes bit by bit, allowing the picture to slowly puzzle together. By the time his eyes were fully open, he found himself staring up at a dull white ceiling. He tilted his head on its side and saw Erik sitting, very tensely, on a nearby couch. A few memories came back, and Charles felt for his legs.
Charles attempting a weak smile towards his friend, hoping he would return the favor. Erik didn’t even move.
“Charles, if you don’t want to see me anymore, I under…” but Charles cut Erik off.
“Erik, I do not remember anything. What happened, where it happened, why it happened – all of them are a mystery. I don’t ever remember when…” Feeling a little less groggy, the telepathic spoke to his friend, I would like you to fill in the gaps of my memory that seem lacking.
Charles could sense that his friend was shocked by speaking to him mentally. “Please Erik,” he said sympathetically. “I don’t remember anything.” Charles whispered, trying with all restraints to keep from crying. Please.
Erik sensed his friend uneasiness. He figured Charles knew something was up. Charles had probably made ideas about what was wrong with his legs. Do you know when you can’t feel your legs, that you can’t feel them? What does that ‘feel’ like?
“Yes Erik, you do notice the missing control of limbs. It is nothing more than realizing you only control half your body.” Erik noticed Charles was intentionally ignoring the word feel. He made note of that, and contemplated reminding Charles to stay out of his head. Erik remembered the situation, and let the thought pass. “Please explain to me what happened,” Charles reminded Erik.
Erik though about standing, but deemed it rude to brag that he still had the talent his friend had just lost. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
“I remember you…” Charles winced “…sending a coin through my mind. Not me personally, but a mind I was connected to.”
“O my god Charles…I didn’t realize you were…” but Erik trailed off.
“Erik, I remember that, and I forgive you. You did not know. It was the only way. Now please, remind me of what I don’t remember.
“After I…killed Shaw…I carried him out to show everyone what I…er…accomplished. After a few minutes, the US and Russian ships both aimed their missiles at us. Using my power, I stopped them. You told me to drop them, and I should have listened to you, but I didn’t. I turned every missile around and sent them back at the ships. You did your best and ran at me, knocking me over. That caused most of the missiles to drop, harming no one. I attempted to resend the remaining missiles at the ships. Moria did her turn in attempting to distract me. She took her gun out and began shooting at me. I reflected each of the bullets without any hesitation, only one of the bullets path came in contact with another object. You. You collapsed right in front of me. I dropped any remaining missiles and darted to your side. Blaming of different causes took place, but you managed to tell me that I did it. It was then that I knew that I could never make it without your help. We created a stretcher of sorts, and Azazel teleported us here.” Erik caught Charles’s glance. “Azazel, Angel, and Riptide went on their own. I could do nothing about it.” Charles gave him a nod of reassurance. “That was yesterday. The doctor explained to Moria and me your situation after your surgery. The bullet severed your spine.” Erik paused, “You have lost control of your legs. Paralyzed. There is little hope of you walking ever again.” Erik looked at Charles to see his reaction, but seemed surprisingly calm.
“Erik, I remembered everything from yesterday. I wanted to hear your side it.” Erik felt a little hurt. “…but paralyzed? That’s new…”
“Charles, with me being the cause, if you never want to see me again, I under…” but Erik could tell his friend’s mind was on different thoughts.
“It looks like the mansion will be getting some remodeling,” Charles paused, “Groovy.” Erik saw his friend squeak a small smile.
And Erik did the same.
The days in the hospital quickly turned into weeks, and those turned into a couple of months. Charles was amazed at how busy they had managed to keep him. Charles had stayed in well over five rooms, moving whenever the doctors found him farther along in the recovery process. Every night when Charles went to bed, his arms were beyond sore. He had spent most of his awake hours in physical therapy. They were working on strengthening the muscles in his own arms since they had recently become his new legs. Charles had to admit, it was definitely working. He could now lift himself out of his wheelchair onto his bed and accomplish other various tasks. He also was able to drive his wheelchair without tiring out.
Everyone had had his or her first visit seeing Charles. It was good for him to see everyone, no matter how much he wished they didn’t have to see him how he was. But then again, they would have to get used to it since he wasn’t changing anytime soon.
Even Hank had his first visit. Charles managed to project thoughts into the minds of anyone who Hank passed, making him appear un-blue. It was very reassuring to see the furry mutant again. He could tell that Hank had taken his place in his absence, and it was evident in the bags under his eyes. Charles had to mature at an early age, and he didn’t want Hank to go through the same thing. He knew he needed to get home soon.
A couple of times Charles tried to convince Erik to go back home and help Hank, but Erik ignored him every time. Charles understood the horrors of Erik’s previous life and didn’t push the matter too much. If Charles had experienced the hospitals Erik had, he wouldn’t want to leave anyone there alone either. Certainly not someone as close as a brother at that.
As Charles moved to various rooms, so did Erik. Charles persuaded all the nurses and doctors to let his ‘brother’ stay with him. With their last few rooms, Charles even managed to get Erik’s couch upgraded to a sofa sleeper. Over the course of a few months, the hospital hadn’t only become Charles’s home, it had become Erik’s too.
This made it surprisingly hard to leave when the day came. Charles had become accustomed to Sally the nurse bringing him and Erik breakfast each morning, Wednesday being his favorite – bacon and eggs with a side of toast. He rarely got bacon at home, always being afraid of burning himself with the hot grease. With his recent injury, Charles doubted that he would ever attempt it. Maybe I should convince Erik to make me some.
Not only would Charles miss the breakfast routine, but he had friends here. There was Ben, his trainer from physical therapy; Candi, the person who came and cleaned his room during the day; and so many other that he would miss.
Charles sat in his wheelchair and looked at his most recent room assignment. It was definitely the nicest of all of them. It felt the homiest. The hospital bed (which was low to the ground for people like himself) had a normal looking comforter on it. There was a TV directly across from the bed, which Charles took for granted. It helped him stay up to date on the current news. There was a table in a corner where he ate each meal every day, and a randomly placed couch squeezed against a wall. It was awkwardly placed since it had had to be added to the room arrangement for Erik’s purpose. It was hard to maneuver around, but Charles accepted the challenge, figuring that not everything was going to be as simple as the hospital.
Charles turned his head when he heard the door open behind him. “You done saying goodbye Charles?” Erik said jokingly. He never understood why he got attached to things so often.
“Yes.” He glanced around the room one more time, and rolled out the door.
“Hank has a car waiting outside. He said he tried to make it wheelchair ready in time, but he was too busy with other…things. We’ll have to lift you in and have you sit like that for now.”
And so it begins, Charles thought to himself. No more individual freedom. “Of course, if it’s the only way…” Charles tried to give a weak smile, but couldn’t.
Erik watched as Charles rolled his wheelchair down the hall ahead of him. Erik had to admit, he was quite impressed at what only a few months of physical therapy had done for Charles. Not that he ever had considered Charles weak; he just never stood out as the strongest of all people.
It still surprised Erik that Charles blamed him for none of what had happened. Even he, Erik, blamed himself for what had happened. He knew Charles looked happy and content with his situation from the outside, but Erik could only imagine what was bubbling over from the inside. Erik was only reassured when he saw his friend face when he told him he’d have to be lifted in the car.
“Of course, if it’s the only way…” Charles had muttered out. Erik wanted to respond with something reassuring. He wanted to tell Charles that it’d only be a little while, and then everything would be back to normal. Erik wanted to admit it to himself, get rid of any sense of blame still controlling him.
It’d never change.
Charles would forever be confined to his wheelchair.
The two of them continued forward until they reached the main exit/entrance of the hospital. They walked about a block down the sidewalk until they saw a parked car, with a blue furry man in the driver’s seat.
“Hello Hank,” Charles greeted in his usual self – still to the amazement of Erik. “Well, who’s going to help me in?” Charles said with a very forced smile.
“Stay in there Hank…I’ll get Charles,” Erik said as Hank had started to open the door, and Erik pushed it back close. Erik pulled open the back door, and gave Charles a look, saying something like are-you-ready-for-me-to-help-you and are-you-absolutely-okay-with-your-situation?
“So, will someone please get me into this car?” Charles said, trying not to sound as frustrated as he was. And with that Erik lifted Charles bridal style into the car. When Erik started to move the metal seat buckle, Charles gave him a glare that even worried Erik a little bit. “That I can manage myself.”
Erik left Charles, put the wheel-chair in the trunk, and started to open the passenger seat when Hank stopped him. “Someone should sit back by Charles…just in case,” Hank whispered, trying to keep out of Charles line of hearing. Erik took a glance back at Charles, and by the look of his face, he had heard everything that Hank had just said.
“I don’t need any…” Charles tried to cut in.
“I’ll sit by him.” Erik mumbled, feeling suddenly a little scared to sit next to the 24 year old, who looked like he’d brake into a temper-tantrum any second. Erik refused to make eye contact with Charles for the rest of the car ride home.
When the car took a turn around the last bend before his Westchester Mansion, Charles felt his heart leap a little bit inside. He hadn’t been home in nearly four months. It was a feeling of excitement and anxiety. He was glad to be home, but there was much work to do once he arrived there.
First off, many adjustments had to be made to the Mansion. Elevators were now necessary. There was no way that he could maneuver a wheelchair up the stairs. Also, certain countertops may have to be lowered for the use of himself, along with other minor changes along the same line.
On top of that, there was still the idea of possibly turning this mansion into a school for other mutants in need. He would have legal issues, government codes to follow, along with cleaning up the various rooms to allow kids to board in.
As Charles was lifted out of the car and back into his wheelchair, he was already faced with his first issue. The front door. Charles looked up at his first of many challenges. There was the front door, that was nearly two stories tall in itself. In front of this spectacular door, was Charles four first enemies. Four. Simple. Steps.
Charles had never before in his life noticed that those steps existed. Being in a wheelchair opened his eyes like he could never imagine. Charles rolled up towards the stairs until he was about 6 feet away, and stopped dead in his tracks…or trail more like it.
Erik saw Charles stop. It took him a moment to realize why he had, but when he realized, he felt another pang of guilt hit him. Charles stayed completely still in front of Erik. Erik did the only think he could think of and felt for the metal in Charles’s wheelchair. He gently lifted the wheel chair up, off the ground, and over the stairs, onto the porch. Erik tuned out any unaccepting grunts from Charles.
Those were the only remarks Charles made before he rolled inside. Erik and Hank followed in slowly after him. Erik could tell that Charles didn’t know what to do with himself. “Shall I go and find the others?” Erik suggested.
Charles softly mumbled that sounded something like, “I’ll go find them myself,” and rolled away. Erik started to follow but stopped when Charles let out something he didn’t understand, but by the tone, it seemed Charles was done with Erik for the moment.
Charles moved around the first floor of his childhood home, suddenly realizing how much he was cut off from. He figured everyone was in the sitting room, which to Charles’s relief, was on the first floor. He rolled down the hallway. “Rolled.” It was the new walk.
Charles guesses were right. He turned and looked inside the room. Inside sat Sean, Alex, Raven, and Moria. “Hello,” he pushed out quietly. Charles didn’t even have to enter the sitting room. Immediately all four smiling faces rushed out to him, all unknowingly fighting over who got to hug Charles first. As expected, Raven won the unspoken battle.
It was nice to see all of them again. “Well new faces are a pleasant surprise,” Charles said happily, forgetting any previous angers. “I hope Hank hasn’t put you guys to too much work,” Charles added, with a genuine smile. He continued to talk the four of them, listening to various stories that had happened to them while he was gone. They talked for at least an hour, or until whenever Erik walked down the hall.
Charles let out a glare at Erik. Charles didn’t know why he suddenly had all this hatred towards the man. He was perfectly understanding of the situation, and after nearly four months of just the two of them in the hospital, he should have been perfectly comfortable with Erik being around.
But then there was that feeling of extreme hatred that wanted to scream out of his lungs. Erik walked down the hall, the way he always had, but now, Charles viewed it as almost a strut. Charles sat confined in a wheelchair, while Erik showed off his skills of still walking… Whatever feelings of hatred Charles had been feeling, were sent deep down inside him. Charles didn’t understand why he had these feelings, so he saw it best to bury them.
Charles glanced down at his wrist. It was already nearly nine. “It’s probably best if I get to bed. And I must admit, I shall be nice to sleep in my own bed, in my own room,” Charles paused, “…alone.” He sent another glare at Erik. Where are these feelings coming from? “Erik, if you wouldn’t mind helping me up the stairs…”
“Of course Charles.”
Erik lifted his wheelchair up and headed towards the stairs. “You know, if we’re going to keep this up, we may have to invest in a seatbelt,” Erik tried to joke. Charles didn’t look at him, but made a face that he didn’t even realize he was capable of making.
When they reached the top of the stairs, Charles was placed on the ground, and rolled down towards his room. Erik started to follow him. “Erik, I can manage to get to my room myself.”
“Charles…are you sure?”
“Erik. Go.” His friend turned around. Charles immediately felt terrible for what he had said. He made a note to apologize the next morning. He went instinctively towards a door at the end of the hall. He leaned forward, reached for the nob, and pushed it open. His hands slipped to the wheel of his chair and he rolled forward. However Charles didn’t get very far. He was stopped with a large thump. He tried again. Thump. Again. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
He tried to straighten himself out more, and tried again, only to be greeted with thump. His chair was too wide for the doorway. Are all the doorways like this? Charles wondered silently. He thought about calling mentally for someone, but decided that he didn’t want the help. However, he knew there was no way for him to get into his room tonight. That much he realized.
He silently rolled back down the hall, and to the broom cupboard. He opened the door, relived to see that the extra pillows and blankets were on a low shelf. He grabbed some of each and rolled back to his doorway. He laid them down on the ground, and pulled himself out of the wheelchair. It was a time like this where he was thankful for the physical therapy. He laid his head down on the set of fluffy pillows he grabbed himself. Then he grabbed the sheet and pulled it over himself.
I guess I’ll camp out for the night.
“Charles?!? What do you possibly think that you are doing??” Erik screeched out from the end of the hallway. It had been at least two hours since he had left Charles to head towards his room by himself. Now, as he headed to his own room, he saw something that looked quite a bit like Charles’ wheelchair down at the end of the hallway.
As tired as Erik was, he ran down the hall to check on his friend. “Charles?” he said softly, lightly tapping his friend on the shoulder. “Are you okay??” Charles tossed a little bit on the floor, and slowly opened his eyes. “Why are you sleeping out in the hallway Charles?” Erik said, surprisingly calm.
“The floor looked cozy,” Charles responded, obviously trying to lighten the mood.
“And not your bed inside your room? Why aren’t you sleeping in there?” Charles didn’t respond at first. He just gave Erik that glare that Erik was suddenly getting used to.
“Why didn’t you go into your bedroom Charles?” Erik asked again.
“My chair wouldn’t fit through the doorway,” Charles mumbled, hoping Erik could still hear him, so he didn’t have to repeat himself. Charles watched as Erik’s face changed to sudden shock.
“Well why didn’t you call for help? You know someone could have easily…”
“NO!” Charles shouted. “ERIK YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! YOU DON’T GET IT! I DON’T WANT YOUR HELP. HANK’S HELP. ANY ONES’ HELP. NO ONES’!” Charles stopped and took a deep breath. He saw Erik’s face of pure shock, but didn’t stop. “AND YOU, OF ALL PEOPLE, ARE THE PERSON WHO I WANT THE LEAST HELP FROM! YOU’VE DONE YOUR FAIR SHARE OF HELPING ME! IF IT WASN’T FOR YOU, EVERYTHING WOULD BE NORMAL. I’D BE WALKING, AND EVER ONE WOULD HAVE BEEN TRAINED 4 MONTHS MORE!”
“Charles, if you don’t want me here…” Erik tried to cut it.
“NO ERIK! I DON’T WANT YOU HERE!” Charles took one more deep breath, and spoke very softly, “Please. Leave us. We’d be better off if you weren’t here as a constant reminder of why it happened.”
Charles saw a small tear slide down the side of Erik’s nose, and immediately wished he hadn’t said any of that. Where was this all coming from? Before he could say anything else to Erik, he saw him head towards his own room, walked inside, and came back out, with something in each hand. His right hand held the suitcase that he had lived out of at the hospital. In his left hand held the helmet which had previously belonged to Sebastian Shaw.
Please Erik, no. I didn’t mean any of it. Erik. Please. But before any one of the thoughts reached Erik’s mind, his head was covered with that horrible helmet. Within the next minute, Charles heard a loud slam of the front door. Please Erik…
Immediately after the loud noise, Charles saw five bodies rushing toward him down the hallway. They were all asking him why he had been sleeping on the floor, why Erik had left, but Charles blew off all of their questions.
“I couldn’t get my wheelchair through the door. Hank would you mind getting me and my chair into my room?” Hank nodded, and lifted the wheelchair at an angle so that it’s fit through the door way. Then Hank picked up the telepath and put him into the chair.
“Will you be good from here Professor?” Hank asked, and Charles gave the blue boy a kind nod. “Ok, well if you decide you need any help, don’t be afraid to call,” and Hank wiggled his fingers next to the side of his own head. Charles gave a small chuckle.
“I will,” Charles responded, feeling a little bit better, but suddenly felt terrible again. Why did I say that to Erik? How did I send away my best friend? Erik, if you can hear me, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean any of it. Please come home. Charles projected to the metal bender, secretly hoping that putting on the helmet was just an act.
Charles got himself dressed in his pajamas, and rolled his chair over to the side of his bed. He steadied his arms on the mattress of his bed. He pushed himself up, and turned around, now sitting on his bed – his legs hanging over the edge. Charles grabbed his two limp legs, and lifted them up onto the bed. He positioned a few pillows behind him, and laid his head down.
I’d better get some good rest. I’ve got lots of fixing to do tomorrow.
Good night Erik he thought instinctively.
Erik leaned his elbow on the counter, held up his hand and gave it a wave. The bartender acknowledged him and brought him another of what he had been having all night – he didn’t even remember what it was anymore. Erik knew last call was coming up. Any other night, had Charles been at the bar with him, the two would have easily ‘persuaded’ the ‘tender to extend the time.
But Charles wasn’t with him. In fact, Charles wouldn’t ever be with him again, knowing his luck. Erik tilted his head, and the helmet on top of it jostled a bit.
He didn’t like keeping Charles out of his head, but he knew that it was his only option. He wasn’t weak. He was Erik Lehnsherr – Nazi Hunter. Erik knew that Charles would never make him come home, but Erik would like to know it was his decision to go back.
Then Erik remembered – it wasn’t his choice to come home. He hadn’t left at free-will; Charles insisted that he had to leave. He would never know when – if ever – Charles wanted him to return, and certainly not with his helmet off. I’m never going to see that place again.
Trying to forget his last thought, Erik decided it best to gulp down the last of his drink before he was told to leave. Then he headed out the bar’s doors and down the road to the nearest motel.
By the time Erik was settled in the room, well over an hour had passed. That left him sitting on the creaky old bed, helmet firmly on his head, allowing himself to be consumed in his own thoughts. Erik wasn’t one who normally liked admitting to feelings. He tried hard on a daily basis to hide any and every emotion from the people around him. He tried even harder to hide said emotions from himself.
And until recently, Erik had always been able to hide these things that cause him so much pain. He had everything under control until that night Charles had pulled him out of the water. Erik didn’t understand what it was, but whenever Charles was around he was different. Something changed in him. It was if a tight knot in his chest was loosened whenever he was around the young telepath. He didn’t feel like he had to watch out for potential killers lurking around the corner. He felt almost – however hard it was to admit it – normal.
The only other person who Erik had ever felt normal around was his own mother. Deep down he knew that that was because he loved his mother. Even deeper down he wondered if that’s not why Charles made him feel that way. And if it is, its friendship love? Right? If not that, brother love? Yes. It has to be brotherly love.
It was 12:27 in the afternoon when Erik finally dragged his eyelids open. Erik never slept that late. No, Charles never let him sleep that late. It was always exactly 7:30 when Charles voice rang into his head saying, “Wake up.” And Erik always had.
Now that Charles was gone, Erik wondered if he ever would get up on a regular schedule again. Before he had met Charles, he easily woke up each morning to seek his revenge on the people who destroyed his life. There it was again; how much easier his life with Charles had been.
I’ll never be the same, will I?
Erik suddenly had a desire to communicate with Charles. He started by removing the helmet that had been on his head all night. Trying to remember what Charles had taught him, Erik started broadcasting his thoughts towards Charles. Before he could even think of something to say, he was interrupted.
O, Erik…I’ve been looking for you all night. Please come home?
I don’t want to come back if you don’t feel completely comfortable with me being there so…
No Erik. I want you here. I was tired and stressed last night. I didn’t mean it. Please come home? Erik almost heard the tear roll down Charles’s cheek.
I’m coming home.
Erik was relieved to see the front doors to the mansion. He didn’t want to think that he had felt the same way less than 24 hours ago.
I’m in the library Erik; you’re welcome to join me.
Erik instinctively took the shortest route to the library. Without any hesitation, Erik opened the door and walked in. Charles was parked in his wheelchair next to the coffee table; a book in his hand. Charles gently closed the book and set it on the table in front of him.
“How nice it is to see you home again,” Charles said, followed by a genuine smile.
Erik began to walk forward, “I’m so sorry Charles…”
“I know Erik.”
Erik kneeled in front of Charles’s wheelchair. “I didn’t mean to…”
“No, I’m sorry. I sent you away.”
“No Charles. It was only a matter of time before…”
“Erik, I…” but Charles didn’t finish. He was cut off by shock before that happened. Erik had leaned forward and hugged Charles, however awkward the wheelchair made it.
“I love you Charles.”
“I know Erik,” Charles hugged Erik back and gave him a light tap on the back. I know.
Over the course of the next months, many things were accomplished, easing the stress on Charles’s mind. All the paperwork to start Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (Raven’s name – but it’s impossible to argue with the girl once her mind was set) was finished and approved.
Cerebro II was well in progress. Hank was certainly working (and succeeding) at making the place more modern. Or at least modern for the 60s. Elevators and advanced kitchen technology had been installed. Hank even made Charles a new wheelchair. It was skinnier than the old one, eliminating the problem of door frames. Everyone had agreed that fixing a wheelchair was much easier than every door. As a surprise for Charles’s birthday, Erik even created two rather groovy X’s to fit the wheels of his chair.
Erik. That was another thing that had eased the stress. It was nice to have the moral support of someone his own age. He didn’t feel as bad asking Erik to do something for him, instead of his younger students.
Charles was beyond thankful about how the kids had responded when they told them about their…relationship. Charles didn’t want to bring it up unless it arose, but luckily Erik thought differently. He saw it best to tell the kids before they found out in a more…embarrassing…way.
The kids had even taken to calling them ‘Mom and Dad,’ though they’d never say it to their faces. They wouldn’t dare call Erik ‘Dad’ unless they wanted a piece of metal flung into their skull. And they wouldn’t call Charles ‘Mom’ since he too should technically be called Dad. However, being a telepath, Charles knew all about these secret names. Charles didn’t bring them up to Erik because, secretly, he was dying to see Erik’s face when one of them let ‘Dad’ slip.
The only thing left to do was clean out the rooms, which is what the group’s task was today. They had split into ‘teams’ so to say: Alex and Sean; Hank and Raven; and Charles and Erik. Each team had a floor of their own to clean through. Originally the kids wanted a competition, but no one could agree on a prize and/or consequence, so it was decoded on bragging rights. Which, in a house of mutants, is worth more than someone would guess.
And the person who wanted to win more than anyone, was Erik. He needed to win because he couldn’t imagine being constantly reminded he’d lost. Unluckily for Mom and Dad, they were stuck with the hardest of all floors. The second floor. Much of floor one had been cleaned out within the past few months. The third floor was barely touched, but only had about 10 rooms. The second floor was as big as the first floor, but only had enough rooms cleaned for the current residents.
Charles had a lot of work ahead of him if he didn’t want to be tormented by Erik for the next month.
Erik was leaning against the kitchen counter, starting in on a fresh cup of hot coffee. “Erik, if you want any chance of winning, we’d better start soon.” Erik nodded,
“Okay…” Erik said, Charles spun around, “Oww! OW! OW! OW!” Erik screeched, with each ow louder than the previous.
Charles spun around again with a sudden feeling of worry, “What? Are you okay?”
“It’s really hot,” Erik stated calmly. Charles raised an eyebrow. “The coffee. It was really hot,” Erik repeated, with a true laugh behind each word, finishing it up with a grin worthy of a shark. “Well Vicar, are you coming to help me clean or not?” Erik said, sounding dead serious, leaving Charles in a fit of muffled giggles rolling behind him.
“Should we each take a side of the hallway to clean?” Charles said as the elevator reached the second floor, trying to conjure a strategy.
“Oh my dear lab rat, do you honestly think you could dust the top shelf without me? Of course we’re cleaning the rooms together.”
“I sure hope you never call me those names in front of the kids. I might have to come up with a name for you if the situation presents itself,” Charles said smugly, but in a laughing manner.
“I’ll make a note to do so,” Erik replied quickly, flashing a smile.
If you do, I’ll have one of the kids call you dad Charles thought to himself. “Shall we start?” Charles said, rolling through the first doorway.
“Shall we start?” Erik mimicked, “Why are you so proper Charles?” he asked while placing his hands on Charles’s shoulders.
“I’m not going to answer that,” Charles rolled away from the metalbender’s grasp.
“Fine, how do you suggest we start?”
“Not a single clue. Clear everything out?”
“Wow. Did they teach you that at Oxford?”
“Shut up. Well what needs to stay in here for the students?”
“Why should I know? You’re the professor,” Erik said, lightening it up with a smirk.
“Well, a bed…” Charles started.
“…a desk for homework…”
“Aw…you think they’re going to do homework…how adorable.”
Ignoring the comment, Charles continued, “Maybe an end table, lights, a rug? We shouldn’t supply too much, should we? I mean we want it homey, right? But they should be able to have some decision…”
“O Charles,” Erik butted in, “quit stressing yourself out. Let’s just start from the beginning – how’d you put it before? ‘Clearing everything out’? Let’s just start there…”
Charles gave a small nod.
“You okay Charles?” Erik said, a little more seriously. “Hey, you okay?” he asked again, kneeling down this time.
“Yeah…it’s just a lot, you know?”
“Yeah. I do know,” Erik said, and leaned forward, giving Charles a hug, “Hey, I know, okay? And I’ll help with all of it: alright?”
“Right. Now let’s not let a bunch of teenagers show us up? Deal?”
“Deal,” Charles said, truly smiling. It was times like these that he loved having Erik around.
The sun had set hours ago, and Charles and Erik were just finishing up their seventh room of the day. It was one of the two sitting rooms on the floor, decorated with a couch, a few chairs, and a coffee table.
“Seven down, 21 to go,” Charles said.
“Ugh. Don’t remind me,” Erik said sitting on the couch, “How do you think the others are doing?”
“I’m sure we’re ahead by a landslide. Move me to the couch Vicar?”
“Hey! That’s your name, not mine!” Erik said jokingly, carrying Charles to the couch and setting him next to himself.
“Don’t tell Hank, but that chair can be quit uncomfortable for extended periods of time,” Charles said, leaning his head on Erik’s shoulder.
“That’s the first thing I’ll tell him when I see him next.”
“Oooo, how I hope you don’t.”
“Don’t worry , my lips are sealed,” whispered Erik, smiling wide with his lips falsely closed tight. Charles let out a small chuckle.
They sat there for five minutes; until it was obvious they had visitors on their floor.
“Charles?” Pause. “Erik?” The voice was obviously female – leaving only Raven or Moria.
“So who do you think it is my little telepath? Raven or Moria?” Sometimes Charles thought Erik was the telepath instead of himself.
“Well, unless Moria is back from shopping for things for the School, I’d say Raven,” Erik rolled his eyes.
“Hey Charles?” said the voice again, clearly right outside their door.
“Raven,” the two agreed simultaneously.
“Hey Charles, are you in her…O.” Raven stopped, seeing the two sitting next to each other. “I’ll come back…” she started for the door.
“No Raven, it’s fine. What were you going to say?” Charles asked.
“Uh, well…wait. Is this seriously all you guys have gotten done? Hank and I only have like 5 rooms left or something.” Charles tried to calm Erik, as all his blood rushed to his face, causing it to turn red with anger.
Don’t worry Erik, we will find a way to fix this…
“Now Raven,” said Charles, returning to his sister, “I’m sure that’s not the real reason that you came up here. Is something wrong?”
“Nooo. We have well…er…a visitor.” Charles picked up on the way she had said ‘visitor.’ He hadn’t heard her use the tone of voice since Danny, her high-school cru-.
“Is that so?” Charles said, raising an eyebrow at Raven. “Well we had better go greet him then. Help me downstairs, Jaws?”
“Any time my little lab rat.”
“Gosh guys,” Raven whined, acting like the teenager she wasn’t. “I know you love each other and all, but do you seriously need these pet names? Especially around people?”
“Hey Vicar, should I close the window before we leave? I think I just felt a breeze and it sounded like it was trying to tell me what to do. I didn’t like it.”
“Of course my handsome shark.”
Raven rolled her eyes. “I don’t even want to know where those came from.”
“We’ll be down in a couple of minutes sweetie,” joked Erik, acting like he was much more than a couple of years older than her. “Well that was fun,” cheered Erik after Raven was gone. He let out a wide grin baring all of his teeth. “Don’t look at me, you know it was hilarious.”
Unable to hide his smile, Charles caved, “Alright, yes it was, can we go downstairs now? I’m rather curious at who this visitor is.”
“Couldn’t you just…ya know…?” Erik said, waggling his hands next to the side of his head.
“I could, but I won’t. Can we go now?”
“After you,” Erik replied, cheesily swinging his arm out after opening the door.
By the sounds of things, Charles would have not placed anything out of order as he approached the sitting room. He could easily hear Raven chatting loudly to one of the boys. It wasn’t until he was much closer that he realized it wasn’t one of his boys. He sent a sideways glance at Erik with caution.
The man Raven was talking to had a very distinct Russian accent.
“Well this is a surprise,” Charles stated blankly.
“The nice kind?” asked the red, devilish mutant in front of him. The last thing the mutant said caused Raven to lock eye contact with Erik and burst into a fit of hysterics. Erik’s eyes went wide, and his face showed an expression of shock – almost as if he was hiding something he hadn’t want to come up. Charles made a mental sticky note to mention this later.
“Why should we trust you?” growled Erik. “You worked for him.”
Calm your mind, my Überlebende. The unspoken German seemed to ease Erik’s pain.
“Raven, I think it’d be best if you left Erik and I to talk to Azazel here. So if you wouldn’t mind…” Charles said to Raven. She put on a pouty face and trudged through the door.
Charles returned to Azazel, “Now. I believe there is a story that needs to be told.”
If it was up to Erik, he would have sent Azazel back to the same place he came from. However, with Charles being the good Brit that he is, Azazel was allowed to tell his tale.
“What has brought you here my friend?” Why does Charles always call people ‘his friend.’ Especially this traitor…
“Would you like the short version or the long version?”
“Which ever you prefer.”
“Well, when we left you that day, we went back to the base at the Hellfire Club. For a few weeks everything had seemed normal. We acted like we had before Cuba, and we never mentioned anything about Shaw. It took the rest of us weeks to realize it, but Emma was slowly pushing herself on top of us. And Angel was slowly rising to her right hand women.” All of it was spoken with a perfect Russian accent.
Azazel continued. “Janõs and I spent the next few months planning how we could escape. Last night we did it. We were free to go where we wanted. At least we were…until she looked for us. And she found us. Well…more so she found Janõs…and she wasn’t happy. And with her power she…” Azazel stopped and took a deep breath, “…killed him.”
Erik’s jaw dropped. He looked towards Charles, “Can you…?”
“I’m very sorry for your loss, but where were you planning on staying may I ask?” Charles said, very calmly.
“Actually…” Azazel paused, and looked down as he rubbed his hands on his legs, “…we were hoping we could stay here. If we were welcome of course…”
“My friend!” Charles exclaimed, Erik growled, “Of course you may stay! I’ll find Moria and have her prepare you a room!” Erik watched Charles roll himself through the door.
Erik glanced up at Azazel and back down to the floor. Then something hit him.
Wait. He’s letting him stay?
Erik tried not to look too rushed as he stood up and headed toward the door. In the hallway he saw Charles 20 yards ahead of him. He felt for the Xs on the chair’s wheels. They came to a halting stop, sending Charles tumbling to the floor.
Shocked, Erik darted towards the crumbled telepath. “What was that for Erik?!?” Charles screeched in a low whisper, not wanting to attract any attention.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean too, but… Are you seriously letting him stay? Here? With us?” Charles nodded as he pulled himself up into a sitting position. “But he worked for…him.”
“I touched his mind Erik. All of his thoughts are good. He is no threat to us,” Charles said calmly, trying to comfort Erik. Erik didn’t want to admit to how much it was working.
“Alright. If you trust him…”
“Then, as do I.” Erik began to reach for Charles to help him back into his chair.
“No Erik, I’m going to do this by myself,” Charles said, not sounding the least bit harsh. Charles grabbed the arm of his chair and attempted to pull himself up. It resulted in him sitting on the ground again. Erik stood and let him try a few more times.
“Please?” Erik asked kindly.
Charles frowned and looked down to the ground. “If it’s the only way…” he mumbled. Erik kneeled down once more and gave Charles a strong hug. He picked up the telepath and placed him in the chair.
Before letting go of him, Erik leaned over and whispered into his ear. “I love you.” Charles pulled himself away, and rolled down the hall.
Erik bit his bottom lip, and felt the corners of his eyes begin to sting. As he watched Charles roll away, he made a very important decision.
I need to save him.
Half way through the next week, Erik remembered the meeting an hour into training.
I’ve just remembered somewhere I’m meant to be, may I be excused Professor?
Of course Mr. Lehnsherr.
Erik looked over to Charles who was helping Alex advance his aim. He sent his friend a large grin, and he returned the favor.
He headed up stairs to change out of his gray sweat suit and back into a turtleneck. It was the middle of September, which, in Erik’s mind, meant turtleneck season. Erik wanted to wear his leather jacket too, but it wasn’t that cool out.
He headed downstairs and into the mansion’s garage. With Charles’s dad being a car fanatic, there was nearly 20 cars for Erik to choose from. Without even glancing at the others, he opened the door to the 1962 Dreamcast, from the current line of futuristic Stark cars. The car was a rich, shiny silver. Adding to its futuristic appeal, the car looked like a flat, aerodynamic spaceship.
The most unique feature of the car was the reason that it was only 1 of 121 in existence. Not only did the 1962 Dreamcast look futuristic, it was futuristic. Erik turned the key, starting up the engine. As the engine began to hum, he felt the car rise up, now hovering a few inches above the ground. Erik knew how much this car meant to Charles. It was the only car Charles had ever bought for himself, and for that reason it was equally special for Erik.
I’m going to take good care of her Erik sent to Charles. He could nearly feel Charles smile in response. I am going for him, the least he can do is let me borrow his precious Dreamcast, Erik thought to himself with a small chuckle.
Erik pulled out of the driveway and hoped the trip would bring him good news.
Erik pulled up to a small, shack-like house just out of the city of New York. He only imagined what he looked like, arriving in a floating car, in this rundown neighborhood. After walking up to the door, he knocked on it lightly. The door appeared it would fall off its hinges the second someone touched it. Erik knocked a couple more times.
“Who is it?” a gruffled voice asked.
“It’s Erik Lehnsherr. Is Emmett Farthing there?”
“I contacted him about a week ago. It was an urgent matter, and we planned to meet this afternoon.”
The man paused, still talking through the door and finally replied, “Prove to me you are indeed what you said you are, otherwise there is no point for me to talk to you.”
Without hesitation, Erik unlocked the door using his powers and swung it open.
“So it exists?” Erik asked anxiously after re-explaining his situation to the man. “Will you be able to get it for me?”
“It does exist, and if you stay true to your promise, I will try my hardest to get it for you.”
Erik tried not to smile too big.
Charles let out a sigh when the clock flicked to 11:00 on his bedside table.
Where is Erik?
When Erik had asked to leave earlier in the day, Charles hadn’t even considered asking him where he was going. Many times before Erik had gotten up and left somewhere, but he was always back before dinner.
What if something’s happened?
“Don’t worry Charles, I’m fine.” Charles jumped at the sound of Erik’s voice.
“Projecting?” Erik finished, “No. You’re just that easy to read.” Erik went to a dresser and pulled out some pajamas.
“Where were you?”
“At a place that should not cause you to worry.”
“A question that should be saved for a later date.”
“You know I could always…” he said, wiggling his fingers.
“But you won’t.” Erik sat down on the bed next to Charles. “Do you know you truly are an adorable lab rat when you’re worried?”
“And you, my friend, are indeed a handsome shark.” Erik snickered to himself. “Sharkneto…if you would.”
“If you say so…” Using his power he turned off the bed side light.
“Good night Charles.”
“‘Night ‘rik,” Charles mumbled, voice muffled by his pillow.
Erik knew he’d have to be more careful if he wanted to keep his meetings with Emmett Farthing a secret. The last thing he wanted to happen was to have Charles figure out what he was up to before he could tell him himself.
Raven sent the red mutant in front of her a genuine smile. She was glad that the only person who was still uncomfortable with him being around was Erik, because Raven didn’t care what he thought. She was happy to be in the company of Azazel, and nothing was going to ruin that.
She had learned much about the devilish mutant. He didn’t remember much of his childhood, but through the years he had gained his Russian accent. In many of his stories there seemed to be various holes, but Raven never brought it up.
The thing that stood out the most was always being comfortable with his skin color. Raven had never met anyone like her in that way. Sure, now Hank was blue, but he never grew up with the feature. With Azazel so accepting of his color, Raven looked up to him, and enjoyed being around him.
Raven was listening to another one of Azazel’s stories, when Charles rolled into the room, Erik right behind him.
“See I told you they’d be here Erik! Raven, Azazel, we’re meeting in the new room in the basement for some team practice. Azazel, I found a spare suit and left it in your room. If you’d suit up and be down in 5?” Azazel nodded politely.
Charles entered the elevator with Erik right next to him. “You’re training with us too? Correct?”
“That’s to be decided, since I am, well…er…” Charles glanced at his chair.
“Maybe I should rephrase this…you are training with us.”
“Maybe Erik, but…”
“Will you go with us? On missions?”
“Then you need to train.”
Before Charles could respond, the elevator door slid open, and Charles was greeted by 6 smiling faces.
“It appears the professor is late,” Alex greeted, in his normal mocking tone.
“Charles chuckled softly, “It appears I am. Either way, I’m sure you are all wondering why we are training here of all places.” Charles paused a second and looked around for a bit. It was the first time he had seen the room completely finished. It was a large metal, box like room about the size of three gymnasiums. It didn’t look like much else, but Charles secretly knew what it was capable of.
“I’ve had Hank create this room for us solely for training. It will create obstacles to test the best of each of our abilities. Erik has so ever affectionately named it the Danger Room for us.” Erik gave his fish like grin.
“Um Charles, if this is a training session, then why am I…?”
“Ah, yes. Moria, it’d be rather ridiculous for us to have no point to the obstacles. For that case, we’re going to start on one side, and reach the other side to save you,” Charles smiled, proud of his plan.
“But, won’t it be…”
“Dangerous? Not the least. I assure you, you will be safe at all times.” Moria nodded warily.
The seven X-Men stood at one end of the room, suited up in their blue and yellow jumpsuits. Across the room Moria was seated in a wooden chair, her face showing nothing but pure terror. “You ready for this?” Charles asked, not caring what the answer would be. “Erik?” The German nodded, and used his power to flip the metal switch, turning the room on.
The room let out a low growl as it hummed awake. The seven stood there and watched as the scenery around them changed. The metal room slowly morphed into a forest: trees sprouted out of nowhere; ponds filling themselves; mosses climbing trees and rocks.
The mutants stood in awe for a moment, absorbing the room’s accurateness. Heck, it even smelled like a forest. “You built this?” Alex asked in pure shock, looking at Hank. He grumbled a conformation. “Nice job, Beast.” Everyone saw a sigh of relief from Hank when Alex called him Beast.
“Right, so Moria?” inquired Raven.
“Yes, let’s not put her through more stress than possible,” Charles responded.
The group walked forward into the forest. “So what’s in this forest Hank?” one of them asked.
“Differs each time. And besides, it’s not always for-” At that exact moment a metal, bird-like creature swooped down to the group; claws first as it dropped. With one swift hand movement, Erik flung the bird into a nearby tree.
“Thank-you Erik,” Charles said gratefully. Not a second later he heard Sean cough something that sounded suspiciously like Magneto. Right. Code names.
“I should check for more of those things,” Sean started, “you know, bird’s eye view…? Azazel?” Azazel grabbed Sean’s wrist and teleported up about 50 feet, and then reappeared on the ground again, only this time without Sean. After a few seconds, they heard an earsplitting cry as Sean flew above them.
Charles placed two fingers on his temple. “Banshee’s found their nest about 40 feet northeast of here. It seems one leaves about every 30 seconds.”
“Northeast? Really?” Raven whined.
Charles rolled his eyes. “This way. Eri-um-Magneto, here comes another one.” One hand wave later and the bird crashed into a tree. As the group approached the nest, Erik levitated Charles’s wheelchair over the bushes and rocks.
“THERE!” Raven screeched as another bird flew towards her. Erik gracefully flung it into the nearest tree.
“I see you’ve found the nest,” a voice behind them said. They all turned their heads to see Sean right behind them. “So, aren’t you going to destroy it?”
“Right,” Alex grumbled. He stepped forward, and aimed the red light towards the nest. When the flash dies down, the scorched remnants of the nest hung from the tree.
“I saw Moria in this direction,” Sean said. The group continued to trudge through the forest. She was still in her wooden chair, only now surrounded by tall grasses.
“Charles! There you are! Thank g-” but she stopped and looked like she’d seen a ghost. He followed her gaze upward, only to see around a hundred soldiers dropping out of the sky, sliding down on ropes of various lengths.
As soon as they began to touch down, the X-Men began to defend themselves. Azazel teleported into various places, using his tail as his weapon. Erik used any and all of the metal on them to his advantage. Hank’s inner beast attacked the soldiers. Alex shot red light towards them, as Sean gave them earsplitting headaches.
Charles waited towards the back of the group, wondering where Raven was, and trying to calm Moria (who seemed to be going into shock). He let go of her mind when he heard an unknown voice yell, “Soldiers! Fall back! Fall back to base!” In front of the group stood another soldier, dressed in a much more official uniform. It clearly made him look like the boss.
When all of the soldiers were gone, the X-Men stared, wondering why the leader was still in front of them. When he morphed into a blue girl, they all laughed.
“How was that?” Raven asked, pride gleaming through every inch of her body.
“Excellent. I think we’re done here? Moria, will you be alright?” Charles asked cautiously.
“Yes. I’ll be fine,” she replied, still shaking.
“Good. Maybe we shouldn’t use real bait next time.” Moria gave him look the nearly screamed ‘you think?’ “Well, excellent work everyone! I suggest we all get a good night’s rest tonight!”
She tried to pay attention during his presentation. She really did, but she took one look into those endearing blue eyes, and got lost in them. She heard a drowned out British accent in the background.
By the end of it, she tried to act like she’d heard every word. It wasn’t until completely after his speech that she actually made sense of what the Brit was saying.
“One thing my mutation allows me to do, is I can read. Your. Mind.” She watched as the words rolled off his tongue, and out of his bright red lips. Seriously she thought. Who has lips that red?
“No agent Stryker, though I could ask you about your son, William, who you were thinking about, which is very nice, but I think I’d…” he continued.
He’s a mutant?
They had arrived at his castle of a house two nights ago. Every night after supper she had tried to talk to him. Not about the CIA, not about mutants, but just to talk to him.
However, each time she tried to start a conversation, he mumbled something about later. Then he continued on his path to the library – a bottle of scotch in his hand – to play another game of chess with the German.
She was left alone to sulk in her jealousy.
She had told Charles that she needed to pick up a few things from her house. She hated lying to him, but this meeting had to be kept a secret – even from him.
“MacTaggert, we can’t have them together. They pose too big of a threat as long as they both are fighting for the same cause.” Stryker explained to her. “We need you to dispose of one of them. It doesn’t matter which or how, but we can’t have both of them against us.” She filled with glee.
Erik was holding off all the missiles. Now was her chance. She remembered putting in each of the bullets this morning. The first five were standard – metal. The sixth one had been specially made. Strong enough to penetrate the bulletproof suit. More importantly – plastic.
She cocked the gun and pulled the trigger. As expected, Erik flung the bullet.
She shot again.
She saw Charles collapse out of the corner of her vision. She stretched her finger, closing in on the trigger one last time…
“ERIK!” Charles shouted out at the top of his lungs. He bolted up in bed, sweating, tears swelling in the corners of his eyes.
Erik sat up in shock, “Charles, are you al-” he tried to say as calmly as possible.
Charles just shook his head, and pushed Erik to the side. Swelling with anger, he got up, into his wheelchair and out of the room. If the mansion hadn’t woken at Charles’s cry, the feeling of hatred he was projecting would’ve wakened them for sure.
He rolled down the hallway at high speeds. 15 feet behind him, he had a group of people running after him. When he reached Moria’s bedroom, he threw the door open.
“OUT!” He screeched. “LEAVE. NOW!” he cried, tears rolling down his cheeks. All of the children took a step back, terrified of the fierceness of his voice. “I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGA-”
“Charles, don’t you think you should…” Erik tried to say calmly, but he was obviously freaked out.
“NO ERIK! SHE TRIED TO KILL YOU!”
“OUT!” Charles shouted one last time. Moria snapped out of all the shock she had been in. She wanted to try and convince Charles she could stay, but didn’t. What she did was wrong and she knew it. She grabbed her few personal belongings and left the dead silent room, not daring to say goodbye.
Everyone in the room was still in pajamas, most of them in robes. Erik was in only a pair of pajama pants, and Charles in his light striped blue and white pajama set. He let out a soft sigh and let his head fall into his hands, elbows on his knees. Erik kneeled by his side. “Did you want to ta-”
“Do I bloody look like I want to talk about it?” Charles hissed softly. He pushed Erik away and rolled down to room, slamming the door so hard the floor shook.
Erik’s jaw hung open with a look of confusion on his face. All of the mutants were speechless. Seeing someone as peaceful as Charles freak-out like that could be traumatizing. “I’ll go talk to him,” Raven offered.
Raven tapped lightly on the master-bedroom’s door, and slowly pushed it open. Charles was sitting up on the bedside closest to the door. His wheelchair was parked next to it. He had propped his legs up, bent at the knee. One of his arms was wrapped around his two knees, with his forehead resting on their tops. His other hand was clasped around the neck of a bottle of scotch. This was the master-bedroom, so Raven figured it was from the secret cabinet in the closet, left there by Sharon.
Raven walked over to what she figured was Erik’s side of the bed. She crawled onto it, and sat next to him. “Hey,” she said, using her sisterly senses.
“I don’t wa-”
“I know you don’t want to talk about it.” She scooted closer to him, and pulled him into a hug. “But I’m going to be right here when you do.”
Charles shifted himself slightly. He lifted up his head and took a drink straight from the glass bottle. He looked at Raven and gave her a weak smile. She could see the tears still on his face. He rested his head on her shoulder and gave him a tight squeeze.
“She was…broadcasting her dreams…” Charles said after about 10 minutes, “Or her memories more so…” Raven didn’t say anything and just let Charles speak when he wanted. “All of them, since she’s met…me. I guess since when I talked to the CIA, she’s had…a…thing…for me.”
Raven laughed, “I’d really like to know why those cheesy pick-up lines work.”
Charles chuckled slightly, “Ah, hey now. They are rather groovy!” Raven was pleased to see this side of Charles again.
He took one more drink before he continued with his story. “I guess, all the time I spent with Erik made her…jealous. So when Stryker told her she needed to…kill…one of us, she…”
“Hold up. Stryker wanted what?”
“He said we were too big of a threat to them together. He wanted one of us out of the picture, so she chose Erik.”
“And she agreed to that?”
“Obviously.” Charles bit at his bottom lip, trying to hold back any tears that were resurfacing. “At the beach…when she shot at him…it wasn’t a distraction. She really was…shooting at him.”
“But bullets are metal. Surely she would have predicted that he’d…”
“Yes. And she did. That’s why the sixth bullet was…plastic.” He nearly choked on the last word. By now, the tears were uncontrollably escaping his eyes.
“O, Charles…” Raven said as she squeezed him as if he’d die if she let go.
“I love him Raven…I don’t know what I’d do if he wasn’t…”
“I know Charles…”
“And now I know, that if I hadn’t been…shot…he wouldn’t have moved, and then, now he’d be…”
“But he’s not Charles…”
“…and I blamed him there…when it really wasn’t…his fault at all…it was hers…and now I don’t know how I’ll tell him that…”
“I don’t think you need to worry,” Raven said. Charles picked up his head and looked at her. She tilted her head towards the door. Erik was leaning on the frame of it, his arms crossed. It was obvious that he too had failed at holding back tears.
Charles tried to smile at his friend, but his weak attempt quickly turned into a frown. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Raven make a gesture, beckoning Erik over. She got out of bed, and Erik quickly took her place. Erik leaned against the backboard and looked over to Charles, who was once again leaning over his own legs.
“How much did you…?” Charles mumbled.
“All of it.”
Charles nodded against his legs. “I feel terrible, but…relieved too.” Charles picked up his head and looked into those haunting green eyes. “I’d die for you Erik. And I really, really mean it.”
“Now Charles,” he said, leaning over Charles to grab the scotch, “let’s not talk like that.” He set the bottle on the table next to him.
Charles pulled himself closer to Erik, wrapping his arms around the taller man. “I love you Erik,” Charles said, resting his head in the crook of Erik’s neck.
“I know Charles,” he said, pulling the telepath closer.
“Um…I hate to interrupt but…” The two looked up to see Hank standing in the doorway, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly, “Mr. Lehnsherr, there’s someone on the phone for you.”
“At this hour?”
“I don’t know, but…he sounded urgent.”
“Alright. Thank-you Hank.” Erik walked over to the phone in the room, wondering why he hadn’t heard it ring. He picked it up. “Erik Lehnsherr.”
“Hello Erik, it’s Emmett Farthing.”
“O.” Erik sighed. “And?”
“I’ve got it.”
Erik felt a surge of excitement. “When can I…?”
“How does tomorrow sound?”
Erik glanced over to his bed, relieved to see that Charles had laid down and drifted into what he hoped was a peaceful sleep. “Tomorrow will be perfect.”
It took the group a few days before they managed to calm themselves after Charles’s melt down. They all understood that Moria couldn’t stay, and agreed that Charles needed to wipe themselves from her memory. Not only did they not want her to tell the CIA, but if Emma got ahold of her…they didn’t want to think about it.
Exactly four days after she had left, Charles was pulling up in the driveway of the Westchester Mansion, returning from clearing her memory. He wanted to feel bad, but the only thing he felt bad about was that he didn’t feel bad.
Charles got out of the taxi he had taken, into his wheelchair, and went into the house, grateful that they may finally have some peace. He entered through the empty kitchen, and went to look for Erik. When he found him, he was in the group’s favorite sitting room, accompanied by Hank, Sean, and Alex. None of them looked pleased.
“Where’s Raven?” Charles asked, forgetting about Azazel.
Erik looked at him apologetically. “Maybe you should try talking to her.” The way he said it made sound like he wasn’t going to be the first one to try.
Raven had hidden herself up in her room for how many hours since she had…found out. The others had tried to talk to her. First Hank did, but she didn’t even make a noise for him. Alex and Sean gave up after 15 seconds. Even Erik – the man with the stone cold heart – had tried to talk to her. The worst part was, she almost told him, but pulled back the second she noticed he wasn’t Charles.
When she heard the doorknob turn, she knew exactly who it was.
“He left.” Charles was in the doorway with a confused look on his face. His lips formed the word ‘who.’ “Azazel. He’s…gone.” Charles rolled over to her bed and pulled himself onto it.
“Are you going to be…?” Raven could tell this wasn’t his forte, but she refused to talk to anyone else.
“Okay? With him leaving? Yea. I think I’ll recover from that part…it’s just, there’s a reason why he, left.” Charles raised an eyebrow to his hairline. “It’s just…I’m…No. I can’t do this.”
Charles hugged her. “It’s alright. If you don’t want to talk…”
“No. I’m going to have to do this at some point. Okay, um, well… The second night Azazel was her, we…he and I…O, how do I put this…” She could tell that Charles didn’t like where this was going. Raven put one hand on her stomach and looked Charles straight in the eyes.
“Charles, you’re going to be an uncle.”
Charles’s jaw dropped. “Oh my goodness Raven! This is wonderful!” He smiled and hugged her again.
“Are you sure this is going to be…”
“You kidding? Do you know how long I’ve wanted to be ‘Uncle Charles’? How magnificent does that sound?” He saw Raven give a sigh of relief. “Uncle Charles,” he muttered to himself, “Yes. I like the sound of that.” Charles looked at Raven and saw something still wasn’t right. “Hey,” he said softly, “you going to be okay?”
“Yea…its just, can we not tell anyone yet? Like, I don’t care if you Erik or whatever, but can we not tell Alex, Hank, and Sean? At least…not yet.”
“If that’s what you want, sweetheart,” Charles said, hugging her one more time.
Raven moaned sarcastically. “Ugh…there you go, acting like my parent again. You know you aren’t that much older than me, even if you do act like an old fart.
Charles laughed. “Oh yes, take out any and all of your pain by mocking me. Did you want to talk about a plan for this now, or should we wait for later?”
“I’m going to be an uncle,” Charles said to Erik later that night as they were playing chess. “Uncle Charles.”
Erik laughed, moving his black knight in an L shape. “So is that what was going on then? With Raven?”
Charles stared down at the board, planning out his next move, and nodded. He moved his rook forward, capturing one of Erik’s pawns.
“And that’s why he left? Correct?” Erik moved one of his bishops. “Check.”
“I’d assume so, but who knows his motives.” Charles moved his king out of check.
“How’s she…taking it?” Erik moved one of his pawns to Charles’s side, regaining his Queen.
“Fine, I think. We’re not to tell the boys though.” Charles moved a pawn forward, unsure what to do next.
Erik nodded, and moved his knight one more time. “I believe that’s checkmate, my friend.”
Charles looked down at the board and up to Erik again. “Ah, I believe you are correct.”
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Charles Xavier woke up at 5:30 on November 17th with a long day ahead of him. He didn’t dare wake up Erik, who was peacefully asleep next to him. He would just slow down all that was to be done today. Charles even sent him more peaceful thoughts, assuring him that he’d continue to sleep the next couple of hours.
Charles pulled himself out of bed and got dressed for the day. Meet me downstairs in 10 minutes he projected to everyone else in the house. He received a few mental groans, but nothing more.
He was in the kitchen, already eating his toast and drinking his favorite tea, when Sean entered the room. “Aw, man. Am I the first one down?” Charles ignored the comment and continued to eat his toast. By 5:50, everyone besides Erik was down in the kitchen.
“Why did you insist on waking us up at this ungodly hour?” Raven whined.
“Because, my dear sister, today is a special day,” Charles explained. “A very special day.” He could tell no one was going to ask, so he just told them. “Today, marks the day of our very own Erik Lehnsherr’s…birthday.”
Raven groaned, “Do you really expect us to…And what’s he going to be anyways…like 40?”
“He’s going to be 27, and yes, I expect all of you to help.” A wave of annoyed feelings crashed into Charles. “I know you don’t want to, but I don’t think our friend has ever had his own birthday party. We’d hate to rob him of the experience any longer.”
“Right. So, what’s the plan Professor?” Alex asked, worried this could become a feelings session.
“Well, Raven, out of all of us, I think you’d be our safest bet for a birthday cake.” Raven nodded. “The rest of you, decorations. And lots of them.”
“And you…?” Hank asked.
“Me? Distraction. We’ll go to the city for a few hours, give you guys time to…prep.” Charles turned to leave the kitchen, “Expect us home around seven.”
“Why exactly are we going to the city?” Erik asked as they drove in the Dreamcast.
“Surely, you know why.”
“I’ve got my guesses, but I sure as heck hope they’re wrong.”
“Well, if any of them start with ‘birth’ and rhyme with ‘day,’ you’ve hit the nail on the head,” Charles said laughing. Erik let out a small groan.
“I’ve never celebrated before, so why…?”
“All the more reason my friend.”
“Right, so I expect that you’ve got this whole day planned out?”
“More or less,” Charles said, smiling.
“Thank-you! Oh, thank-you so much my boy,” the man in rags on the street exclaimed when Charles gave him a five dollar bill.
“You know, you’re a push-over sometimes,” Erik said as they walked away from the man who was still jumping with excitement.
“What are you talking about? He had a wife and three kids to feed! I did the proper thing and gave…”
“For all you know, that family was made up.”
Charles laughed and tapped the side of his head, “Telepath, my friend.”
“Whatever. You hungry?” Erik asked pointing to a hot dog cart on the sidewalk up ahead.
Erik held up two fingers to the man by the cart, pulling his wallet out of his pocket. Charles quickly snatched it out of his hand and grabbed for his own.
“Ah, no. It’s your birthday. I’m paying.” Erik rolled his eyes as Charles handed the man a dollar.
They continued to walk until Erik stopped, gazing in awe at what stood in front of them.
“Ah, yes,” Charles said, stopping next to Erik. “The Brooklyn Bridge. Finished in 1883. It connects Manhattan to Brooklyn. Until 1903, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is also the first steel-wire suspension bridge.”
“Steel, you say?” Erik said, raising an eyebrow.
“Oh no, don’t even think about it.”
“Hey, it is my birthday.”
“Please don’t hurt anyone. I’d hate to clean up that mess.”
Erik smiled and lifted one hand into the air. One of the steel cords on the bridge began to vibrate. Charles watched as it unhinged itself from the bridge and a small piece of it broke off. As the small piece flew toward them, the longer piece reattached itself to the bridge.
“Don’t worry,” Erik said as he bent the small steel cord into a circle, “I left it stronger than it was before.” Erik took the steel circle and put it on Charles’s wrist.
“Only for you, my little szczura laboratoryjnego.”
“That,” Erik said as they left a 5-star restaurant before even finishing their salads, “was not your brightest idea.”
“It would have been fine if you would have behaved properly.”
“It amazes me that you think I know how to behave in a restaurant like that.”
“I’d love to know where you do find it appropriate to levitate a fork of salad into my mouth.” Erik laughed. “You know, I’ll probably never be allowed back in there again.”
“Works for me,” Erik said, still laughing. “I don’t know what you see in those high end restaurants anyways.”
“That happened to be one of my favorite ‘high-end’ restaurants,” Charles tried to sound more angry than amused.
“Shall we try this dinner one more time?”
“What were you thinking?”
“Something a little more closer to home,” Erik said, pointing to a small building labeled ‘Restauracja.’
“Polish food? Really Erik?”
“Hey!” Erik cried, jabbing his thumb into his chest. “Birthday boy!”
Charles sighed, “Fine, but I don’t have any clue what to get.”
“You know, I’m starting to like this. You’re so much easier to persuade on my birthday. If only they were more frequent.”
“They only come once a year for a reason darling.”
“So you’ve honestly never had kielbasa before?” Charles shook his head. “Gosh, what rock did you live under?”
“A British one,” Charles muttered as he took another spoonful of the kielbasa and noodles dish. Their waitress came over and set more bread down on the table. “Gosh, how much bread do you Polish people eat?”
Erik ignored the comment. “I call the krunke.”
“The end of bread, stupid,” Erik said. “Wow. You really know nothing about my culture. And here I was under the impression that you knew everything about me.”
Charles laughed, “Yes, me too. Dessert?”
“Only if you pick.”
Charles looked down at the dessert list on the table. “Right…uh, Makowiec?” Erik made a face. “Ok, no. Um, Sernik?”
“Now we’re talking.”
The two both ate their Cheesecake like food in silence. When they finished, Charles paid and left a tip much higher than necessary. Erik rolled his eyes and they went back out to the streets of New York.
Charles glanced at his watch. 5:17. “Ever been to Central Park?” Erik shook his head.
“Is that a hint?”
Charles grinned, “Maybe.”
Erik held out one arm, “Lead the way Professor.”
They sat on a bench in one of Central Park’s more forested areas. “I got you something, you know…”
“Charles, you didn’t have…”
“Yes I did, and you know it. It could wait for later, but I’d really prefer if you opened it now.”
“Alright.” Charles pulled a small rectangular box, not more than two inches tall, out of his pocket and handed it to Erik. He slowly slid off the wrapping paper, and picked the lid off the box.
Charles watched as Erik’s face slowly turned more solemn. He watched him levitate a small locket in the shape of a heart out of the box.
Mama he heard Erik think to himself.
“Azazel gave it to me when he came,” Charles watched tears form in his friend’s eyes as he spoke. “He said Shaw used it as an example to keep people in line. Using your story to keep them in fear.” He watched as Erik grasped the locket in his hand, resting his closed mouth on the same hand.
After a few minutes, Charles realized Erik wasn’t going to say anything. “We should head home soon,” Charles said, moving himself back over to his wheelchair. He started to move forward, then stopped and looked back at Erik. He was still sitting on the park bench.
“Thank-you,” Erik interrupted, “for…everything.”
They pulled up in the driveway at exactly 7:21. They entered through the front door, without saying a word. Charles could tell Erik was still a little off from the locket that was now around his neck.
“SURPRISE!” was shouted at them by 4 overly excited mutants. Erik’s eyes shot wide open.
“A party, silly,” Charles whispered to him.
“I got that much,” Erik muttered.
“Wow. I swear two men left here,” Alex said, pointing to Erik’s locket and Charles’s bracelet.
“Alex, I’m sure there’s a story behind them that we don’t want to hear,” Raven joked.
Charles looked around at the decorations. He was amazed. Amazed, and pretty sure that there were bookcases hidden somewhere under all the streamers. “Excellent work or the decorations boys. And Raven? Did you do your part too?”
“More or less.” Charles and Erik both raised an eyebrow. “Come on, it’s in the kitchen.” The two of them followed her in the kitchen. On the counter sat a three tiered cake; the words ‘Happy Birthday Erik’ covering every open space.
“I did specify birthday cake, correct?”
“Then why does it look like I have a wedding cake on my counter?”
“Well when you have over 12 hours to do one thing, it’s easy to get carried away.”
“O, Charles…” Erik said, patting him on the back. “It’s fine. I love it.”
The rest of the night consisted of Raven blaring her music; mostly the Beatles and Elvis. The group of boys also spent most of the time trying to talk themselves out of all of Raven’s stupid party games. Most attempts failed and they were stuck playing games like Pin the Helmet on Shaw’s Head and Spin the Bottle. By 12:30, the entire group was upstairs in their rooms.
Charles was reading his new book on genetics when Erik gave him what would come to change his life.
“You know, I got you something too,” Erik said in a serious tone.
“You really don’t understand the concept of birthdays, do you?” Charles joked. The look Erik gave him told him now was not the time for that. Erik walked over and handed him a box made of chestnut-wood.
Charles gave Erik a confused look. “Open it,” Erik said, sitting down next to him.
He lifted the cover of the hinged box. Charles’s eye widened. Inside was one syringe. Inside the syringe was one ounce of thick, green liquid. “I don’t under- what is it?”
Erik looked him straight in the eyes, “The first of many.”
So I won't be able to post the next few days, but I promise I'll be back on Monday! :)
Sunday, November 18th, 1963,
There is no way I can possibly put my current feelings in words. Excited, obviously, but nervous too. Erik has put lots of work into this, and I hope for him that it really does work.
Last night, as I was reading Fredrick Syncline’s new book on genetics, Erik gave me what maybe the single-greatest gift I will ever receive. A cure. After living in a wheel-chair for more than a year, I was finally beginning to accept my predicament. But now, Erik has brought me hope.
I spent a good two hours listening to Erik explain. I’m happy to say that Emmett Farthing is my true savior. Erik found out about his mutation and quickly got in contact with him. Mr. Farthing is a time traveling mutant. I am not yet sure of all that he is capable of, but I will soon. In return for retrieving my cure, Erik has promised a place for him to stay. With us. And train for us. For what he has done for me, it is the least I can give back.
According to Erik, Emmett traveled to the year 2076 to retrieve my leg-saving medicine. Apparently, in the years to come, this medicine is easily available with a 95% success rate. Either way, Hank tested its safeness, and it got his stamp of approval! I’m to take my first injection tomorrow.
I can feel Erik coming back from his run, so I must stop for the night.
Charles Francis Xavier
Tuesday, November 20th, 1963,
I had the pleasure of meeting Emmett today, and I must say, he is a wonderful chap. He is quite intelligent for only 22 years-of-age. We are lucky to have him, and I am very excited to continue to learn more about him.
I took my first injection yesterday. Nothing noteworthy yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
Charles Francis Xavier
Friday, November 23rd, 1963,
Erik kneed me in the leg this morning while we were both asleep and I awoke. Is this the first sign of feelings?
Charles Francis Xavier
Saturday, November 24th, 1963,
I began my training with Emmett this morning. As far as I can tell, when he travels, he cannot come in physical or verbal contact with anyone. It seems that he appears invisible to everyone. However, he is capable of bringing objects back and forth with him. I hope to find out if people are included in this. Truly a marvelous mutation.
Charles Francis Xavier
Monday, November 26th, 1963,
It’s been a week since my first injection and I have to say, my legs are stiff. I’m starting to regret not agreeing to physical training for my legs back at the hospital. Maybe constant stretching of my stumps for legs back then would have ridded me of my current pain. If only I knew a time traveler who could actually communicate with people…O well, Erik and I are going to attempt standing tomorrow.
Charles Francis Xavier
Tuesday, November 27th, 1963,
Standing’s a no-go for the moment. Erik went to get ice.
Charles Francis Xavier
Saturday, December 1, 1963,
Has Erik always kicked this much in his sleep? I think it’s safe to say that I have full feeling in my legs now. Time to work on mobility.
Charles Francis Xavier
Monday, December 3rd, 1963,
Stood today. Maybe I was heavily leaning on Erik before I collapsed, but it’s a start nonetheless.
Charles Francis Xavier
Wednesday, December 5th, 1963,
Trained again in the Danger Room. Today we fought cyborgs in the frozen tundra. I think the room is able to read Emmett’s memories of the future.
Charles Francis Xavier
Thursday, December 6th, 1963,
I actually stood today. No supports or anything. The feeling was very groovy. It appears there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Charles Francis Xavier
Monday, December 10th, 1963,
I feel like a baby learning to walk again. I’m not admitting to any tears or bruises on my head from falling into tables, but I can suddenly relate to a poor year-old child. I cannot believe the pressure we put on them.
Erik even suggested I try crawling at one point. The image of a 25-year-old crawling. Ha. But maybe he has a point…
Charles Francis Xavier
Tuesday, December 11th, 1963,
So apparently a houseful of teenagers doesn’t accept a full grown man crawling around the house.
Charles Francis Xavier
Saturday, December 15, 1963,
I guess a cane is the solution to all of our problems. I managed to walk from the chess set to the bed all by myself. Maybe it wasn’t the prettiest sight, but I did it anyways!
Charles Francis Xavier
Monday, December 17th, 1963,
Put up the tree and decorated the mansion today. It’s hard to believe that Christmas is in just a week!
Charles Francis Xavier
Saturday, December 22nd, 1963,
Erik and I went gift shopping for the kids today. It was my first time out in public without my wheelchair. Surely no one knew that, but it was a milestone for sure. I have to say though, using a cane makes me feel more like an old man than I ever have. Luckily, as the days progress, I feel less need for the silly thing.
Charles Francis Xavier
Tuesday, December 25th, 1963,
I think today is the day. Truly a Christmas miracle.
Charles Francis Xavier
Charles set down his pen and closed the journal. He stifled a small yawn. He and Erik had been up late last night wrapping presents, only to be awoken by the voices of excited teenagers at 5:30.
Erik and the kids were already downstairs. Charles promised to be downstairs in a few minutes, hoping to make some sort of entrance. He looked at his clock. 6 minutes had passed. He stood up and walked out of the study, leaving the cane by the desk.
Charles walked down the hallway and over to the main staircase. The staircase, without a cane.
Maneuvering the stairs was a daunting task, but it luckily felt close to normal. He didn’t use the railing any more than he remembered he used to. If he was relating it to a different time, it would probably be equivalent to stumbling up the stairs drunk.
Charles was standing on the last landing when he heard the chatter of six overly excited voices – Erik’s included. Lucky for Charles, the last flight of the stairs is easily seen from the main sitting room. The first person to notice him was Hank, who gave a fake cough, silencing the room. He nodded his head towards the staircase.
Raven was the first one to say anything. “Charles?!” she said with a mix of emotions. She quickly got up off the floor, and ran up the stairs, pulling him into a hug. She pushed him back a step, looked down at his legs, and then back at his face, the amount of teeth showing in his grin would make Erik proud.
Charles was quickly accompanied on the stairs by Hank, Alex and Sean. Hank was muttering something about the ‘speed of recovery time,’ Alex was making a sarcastic remark that Charles didn’t understand, and Sean stood looking confused, not understanding what the fuss was about.
“He’s walking, idiot,” Charles heard Alex whisper to Sean, whose eyes flew open like he finally understood a dirty joke.
Charles directed his gaze over his shoulder, into the sitting room. Emmett and Erik were both sitting on chairs, deep in conversation. The latter had a smug smile fixed upon his face. Charles looked back at the attention around him.
“Right. So, gifts?” he asked, wanting to go down by Erik. The group let Charles go down first, jaw gaping as he walked down them. The other four quickly came down after him, sitting in various places all over the room. Charles walked over to the chair Erik was currently occupying, and sat down.
“I’m rather comfy, but thank for the offer.”
Giving up, Erik sighed. “Congratulations,” he whispered into Charles’s ear.
“All thanks to you darling.”
They opened Sean’s gift first. He had given everyone earplugs, more so as a joke. Hank mumbled something about them ‘not being done in the lab yet.’ Apparently Alex doesn’t believe in gift giving, only recieving.
Raven grabbed a present from under the tree and handed it to Charles. “For you.”
“Me silly,” Raven said, leaning back against the couch. Charles unwrapped it and pulled out a set of gray knit gloves.
“Gloves?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes. With fingers. I don’t understand the purpose of those other things you always wear.” He heard Erik snort.
“Hey! They are per-”
“Don’t even try your defend your insanity,” Raven laughed, “Erik! We got something for you too!”
“We?” Erik asked suspiciously.
“Me and Charles!”
“Is that so?” Erik said, nudging Charles who was still on his lap. “Did someone forget a certain pact about ‘no gifts’?”
“Yes, but another certain someone gave me back my legs. Consider this the first gift of many. And! In my defense…she made me do it!”
“O, would you two stop bickering and let Erik open it already?” Raven cried. Erik held a large, skinny rectangular box.
“Charles Francis Xavier, if you got me clothes…” Erik joked, laughing as Charles’s face turned bright red. Erik unwrapped the gift and opened the box. Inside were six turtlenecks: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
“Blue and Black turtlenecks get dull Erik,” Raven explained.
“Don’t forget the purple one he wore before Cuba!” Sean piped in.
“Charles and I think you need to brighten up your wardrobe,” Raven finished.
“And you agreed to this?” Erik asked Charles, amused.
“I think you should wear the yellow one today,” and embarrassed Charles muttered, unsure if he wanted Erik to hear or not.
“What’s that?” Erik laughed, “The yellow one? Well…if my lab rat insists…” He yanked his white t-shirt he had slept in over his head, and pulled the yellow turtleneck back over. “You happy now?” Erik managed to say in-between fits of laughter. The room filled with hysterics as Charles buried his face in his hands. “Now. Which one would Charles look best in?”
“You sure? I think green would make you look like a beautiful young leprechaun!”
“I don’t want these images…” Alex moaned.
“Still good with none thanks,” Charles mumbled into his hands.
“Alright,” Erik said, patting a hand on Charles’s shoulder, “but don’t expect to get off this east next time.”
Charles groaned “There’s going to be a next time?”
Sean changed the topic as quickly as possible. “What’s that big box back there?” Charles looked up, noticing the rather large gift he too didn’t recognize.
“It’s from me,” Emmett spoke out, a large grin on his face.
“Emmett you didn’t ha-”
“Nah, it’s okay. And I’m sure you’ll love it,” he said pulling out one big box, and a few miscellaneous other ones too.
Sean unwrapped the big one. “Whoa…it’s hu- wait. What is it?”
Emmett laughed, “That, my friend, is a TV.”
“No it’s not! No way do they make TVs this big. If they did, I’d know about it.”
“Maybe TVs this big don’t exist in the 1960s, but the 2000s, is a different story.”
“So this is from the…?” Charles asked.
“Yup. Open up the other boxes too.” Along with the TV, Emmett gave the group what he called a DVD/Blu-Ray player, surround-sound, and stacks of movies. They all got various movies to share. In the stack included movies like Finding Nemo and other ‘Disney Classics’. He brought musicals like The Sound of Music and Grease. Charles made a note not to watch The Shining by himself. According to Emmett, Star Wars was the greatest movie ever made. “Just the originals, not the prequels. Though if you wanted them, I could always go and get them.”
Along with the shared DVDs, Raven got a set of her own, which according to Emmett were all ‘girly crap’. Many titles made Charles laugh – ‘When Harry Met Sally’, ‘50 First Dates’, and ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days’ amoung his favorites. “I’ll set it all up sometime today.”
The group went off to their own little world after that. “Celebratory walk?” Erik asked Charles.
“Sounds wonderful,” they headed toward the door. Sean had begun to follow them, but Raven pulled him back to the floor.
Charles and Erik trudged through the newly fallen snow outside the mansion. Charles’s hands were shoved deep in his pockets, casually bumping shoulder with Erik every few steps.
“You know, I didn’t even think about it ‘til now,” Charles said, looking down at the ground.
“Hanukkah. Isn’t that what you would normally celebrate around this time of the year?”
“O. Well I supposed, but it’s okay. This Christmas thing isn’t half bad.”
“We could still…”
“Surely you know that we’d have needed to start a few days ago.”
“We could always start it late.”
“Charles,” Erik said stopping, looking down at him, “I haven’t celebrated since I was 11. I think I can wait one more year.”
“Alright.” They continued to walk the path around the mansion.
“I kinda like this,” Charles said softly after a couple minutes.
“I don’t know… This. Walking. The snow. You…”
Erik put an arm around Charles’s shoulder, “I like this too,” he said, lightly kissing the top of the telepath’s head.
It all started when Charles suggested that they go out for celebratory drinks. They agreed to go out to the first bar they found that was crazy enough to be open on Christmas. When Charles made the suggestion, no one besides Raven and Erik knew what they were in for.
When they arrived at a place logically named The Bar, they were amazed to find they wouldn’t be along. Charles quickly set the rules straight. “Right. Now, Alex, Hank, Sean – no alcohol. Raven,” he eyed her, hoping she caught his drift, “…you too.” She nodded. “Right then. Erik?”
6 drinks latter, Charles started to show signs. “You know Erik; you look very groovy in that yellow turtleneck. Are you aware that I may have…persuaded…Hank to use yellow in the suits,” he slurred, attempting to tap the side of his head. “And that was all for you love.” Erik rolled his eyes, trying to ignore the drunk Brit standing next to him.
“Is he always like that?” Emmett asked Alex as the set of five watched the scene from a distance. Alex shrugged.
“Yup,” Raven answered instead, “Ever since Oxford. He’d have normally attempted to hit on at least five girls by now if he didn’t have Erik. Actually, I’m surprised he hasn’t forgot about Erik yet…o wait…”
They watched Charles walk away from Erik – who was ignoring him – over to an auburn haired college girl. From a distance, they were still able to hear a few words. ‘MCL1’, ‘groovy’, and ‘life form’ being the most prominent. They watched Erik walk over and grab the back of Charles’s shirt, pulling him back to the bar like nothing was new.
At 11:30 they approached their two elders, asking to go home. Charles attempted to refuse, but Erik quickly agreed.
“Professor, you should probably put on those gloves Raven gave you,” Hank suggested. “It is cold out, and when you’re…intoxicated, you’ll be less apt to…”
“Yes, alright,” Charles muttered, pulling out the gloves. “But Raven, you really didn’t need to get me anything. A nephew will be the best gift of all, minus my legs of course!”
Raven’s jaw dropped. Erik quickly fumbled to put a hand over Charles’s mouth. The boys’ eyes grew wide.
“Wait you’re…” Hank mumbled, eyes shooting from her stomach to her face, and back again. “…when?”
“When you idiot? How about who?” Alex remarked, “It was that Azazel. Wasn’t it? That’s disgusting you know. Isn’t he like…100?”
Raven turned around, and headed down the sidewalk filled with rage.
“Whoa. What’s wrong with her?” Sean asked. Everyone besides Charles shot him a glare. He held up his hands in surrender. “Whoa! What’s with you people?”
“I may have just…let it slip that Raven’s…pregnant,” Charles said, suddenly feeling more sober.
“Wait she’s…” Sean said, trying to phrase words into sentences, “…but she doesn’t look…”
“Dude, she’s morphing it. I’ve only been here for a month and I can tell you that!”
“Surely that’s not good for the…” Hank said to himself. “I’ll have to run tests to sure it’s…”
“I don’t think now’s the right time Hank,” Erik said placing a hand on his shoulder. He looked to Charles, “I’d normally suggest you go talk to her, but I think we can all agree you’re not at your best right now.”
Charles nodded, then face palmed himself. He leaned into the wall behind him, “What have I done?” he muttered, slowly sliding down the brick wall.
Erik wanted to comfort Charles, but he knew was needed elsewhere.
When Erik found Raven, she was seated alone on a park bench; only visible by the light glow of the street lamp. He sat down next to her. “Alright, I know I’m not your brother, but we both know he’s not feeling the best at the moment. If you prefer me to go get Hank I’d understand…”
She managed a small laugh. “No, you’ll be okay,” she said sliding a little closer to him. She rested her head on his shoulder, and he put an arm around her.
“I know you’re not happy with him, but if you think about it, he did you a favor. You were going to have to tell them at some-point, and now he just got rid of the horrifying when and how part.”
“And now, no more hiding,” he said softly. Raven knew how much he hated people who hid themselves. Erik set a hand on her stomach, and she morphed her blonde persona, slowly revealing a small bump. “Perfection.”
“Thank you,” he saw the corners of her eyes tinted red.
Erik nodded, suddenly feeling a wave of sympathy for the mutant sitting next to him.
Charles started the next day with a killer of a headache. When he walked down stairs, he was glad to find Raven in a good mood. She was sitting in the main room watching a movie. Most of the household was with her in the room, minus Hank.
“Which one is the-oooh, no loud noises please,” Charles moaned, rubbing the sides of his head as he sat next to Erik on the couch.
Erik clapped his hands three times, nice and loudly in Charles’s ear. “Little Hung-over, are we Professor?”
“It’s times like these that I wish my mutation was to turn off all senses.” Erik gave a truly evil laugh. They continued to watch whatever was playing. Much of it made no sense. Many of the people wore the weirdest clothes, while using phones with no chords that were like strange TV like devices that did numerous tasks for them.
When the credits rolled, Raven seemed happy. Erik was far from it. “Do the people in the future have no creativity? The past 3 movies I’ve seen had the exact same plot. They meet, fall in love, something bad happens, they hate each other and somehow live happily ever after.”
“Are you telling me you’ve never experienced anything similar?” Charles prodded, raising an eyebrow.
“That’s the horror of chick-flicks,” Emmett explained. “I suggest you try Star Wars.”
Apparently Charles, Erik and Raven didn’t enjoy Star Wars as much as they should have. Alex and Sean were a different story.
“When does Star Wars come out?!?” Sean asked excitedly.
“1977,” Emmett replied.
“Darn. That’s like…” Sean held his fingers up in front of him.
“14 years,” Alex said.
“Yeah! That’s like 14 years! I’ll be an old fart like Charles then!”
Emmett put in the Shining next. Erik disapproved of that one too. He began to stand up, grumbling something about Hollywood ‘not knowing true horror’. However, Charles pulled him back down and clung onto his arm. It was the bathroom scene, and there was no way Charles was letting Erik leave the room.
Emmett was fed up with Erik’s poor reactions. Convinced to keep his interest, he put in Inception. That was the winner. Charles watched as Erik twitched his face, trying to figure out the plot.
In the end run, Charles deemed it a good day. He could definitely get used to this kind of environment.
“So, am I correct to assume that you won’t be coming with me then?”
Charles took in a deep breath through his nose, causing a loud, snorkeling noise. He sent Erik a glare, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m fully capable of coming with you.” Charles attempted to push himself into a sitting position on the bed, falling back down when his arms collapsed underneath him. “…if you help me get up,” he said with a soft voice, muffled from a clogged nose.
Erik – who was standing a foot from the bed, already dressed, with his arms crossed – raised an eyebrow. “You really think I’m going to agree to that?”
“I’m not missing our first student recruit,” Charles protested, nose obviously plugged.
“And what good will you be, besides making everyone else sick?” Erik responded, keeping his tone light. “You’re going to stay home, get some rest, and maybe eat some soup. And if it makes you feel any better, it’s technically not our first recruitment.”
Charles groaned. “Yes mommy,” he muttered as he flipped over and buried his face into the pillow.
Erik pulled the comforter up over his shoulders, “I’ll check on you later,” Erik whispered mockingly as he patted Charles on the back.
He headed out to the car and began his drive to Annadale-on-Hudson.
11 year old Jean Grey sat hunched up on her bed; a blanket drooped over around her shoulders. Over the past year, she had grown used to the solitude of hiding in her room. However, today was one of those days where the voices were beyond bearable. When she told her mother, she had immediately contacted the colleague of her psychiatrist.
Professor Charles Xavier.
She heard a knock at the door below her, immediately followed by the creak of the door’s old hinges. She could hear her dad’s voice underneath her.
“You must be Mr. Xavier.”
She heard a man with a German accent respond.
“O, I understand,” her dad said. “She’s upstairs in her room.” Jean heard one set of footsteps coming up the stairs, followed by a knock on the door.
“Come in.” Her bedroom door opened and a tall, dark haired man entered her room.
“You must be Jean,” he said after a moment.
“Are you Professor Xavier?”
“No, I’m Erik Lehnsherr. Unfortunately Charles has a small cold, and sent me in his place.” Jean nodded slightly. “So, your parents said that you haven’t been feeling yourself lately. Would you mind telling me about that?”
“When I was ten, after…” Jean trailed off, not wanting to talk about Annie. She quickly changed her train of thought. “After certain…experiences I started, hearing voices. Not like made up voices…but like actual trains of thoughts. Some days were worse than others, and now…that’s why I don’t go by people It seems…the more people I’m by, the louder they get…” Jean stopped, hoping she’d said enough.
“I’m going to tell you something Jean,” the man – Mr. Lehnsherr – said, “and I want you to understand, that what I’m about to tell you, is not a bad thing.” Jean looked down at her hands, watching as her thumbs circle around each other. “There are other people like you, Jean. People like me. Did any of your teachers ever talk to you about something called evolution?” Jean nodded. “Well, Charles is much better at explaining this than I am, but people like you and me are what they’re calling homo superior. All of us have our own mutant gifts. Char- Professor Xavier and I are led to believe you’re a telepath – much like the good Professor himself.”
“And what about you?”
“What’s your power?”
She watched as Mr. Lehnsherr raised one hand towards her desk. She watched as a few coins on her desk began to rattle. She watched as the coins slowly floated over towards her.
The man laughed. “Metal. My friend, Charles Xavier is starting up a school for the gifted – mutants – people like me and you. And if you’d agree to it, we’d very much like it if you come back with me to our school. We’d like to help you Jean. Help you learn to control your gifts.”
“Yes.” Jean knew she wanted to go with the man the second he said something about the school. A place where she would be normal. It was one of her favorite fantasies. The man gave a polite nod and started towards the door. “Uh, Mr. Lehnsherr?”
“Erik…could we not tell, my parents about…that I’m…a…” she watched as Erik’s expression showed a little bit of him dying inside.
“If that’s what you would like.”
It hurt Erik, seeing a girl like Jean. Only 11-years old, and already afraid to reveal herself to her own parents. She’s only 11-years old and she’s already wanting o go into hiding for the rest of her life. He wasn’t going to push it yet, but he would help her accept herself. At Charles’s school. He thought about his conversation earlier.
“…come back with me to our school.”
It was their school new. His and Charles. He had admitted it without even thinking about it.
Erik talked to Jean’s parents, explained the school to them, and arranged for her to be dropped off later that week. He answered any last minute questions, politely said goodbye, and drove home – hoping Charles had actually listened to him for once.
When Erik came home, Charles was standing in the kitchen, stirring the soup that was on the stove.
“Something told me you wouldn’t listen.” Charles turned around to see a grinning Erik leaning on the table. “What’s your excuse this time?”
“I was hungry” Charles turned back around, grinning while he stirred the soup.
“And Raven couldn’t do it?”
Charles shrugged his shoulders. He was never one who liked to admit to illness, and Erik knew it. Within a few seconds, Charles quickly felt Erik within close proximity to him. He looked over his left shoulder and saw Erik beaming down.
“At least let me finish your cooking.” Charles rolled his eyes and stepped to the side. He leaned against the counter by the sink. Erik looked far too pleased with himself as he made Charles his soup.
I presume all went well then?
More or less. Charles raised an eyebrow. She’ll be here on Thursday…
Charles had a tug at the corner of his lips. Oh! Erik that’s wonderf…
…but her parents don’t know.
Any chance of a smile were quickly loss. Erik, didn’t I say that if they’re under the age of…
They hadn’t figured out what she was yet, and she want to tell th-
You, of all people, Erik…I thought I could…Charles didn’t know where this anger was suddenly coming from.
Charles, she trusted me. He could feel the sincerity in Erik’s thoughts. I don’t want the first kid of our school to hate me like all the others do.
That shut Charles up. After a moment, he immediately went soft. They don’t hate y…wait. Did you just call it our school.
Charles saw guilt gleam from Erik’s eyes. I’m sorry, if that’s not what you want…
O, Erik… The telepath immediately threw his arms around the taller man. He rested his forehead on his shoulder. …you have no idea what this mean to me.
Erik reciprocated the sentiment by pulling him in closer. Those few seconds passed on feeling like minutes. “I think you’re soup ‘s done,” Erik whispered softly in Charles’ ear.
“Well, since you worked so hard on it…” Charles looked up and gave Erik a truly genuine smile. Erik opened up the nearby cupboard, pulled out a bowl, and scooped the soup into it. Charles reached for his bowl, but Erik quickly held it high above his head. Erik walked over to the table - soup still high above his head – and set it down on the table. Charles followed him across the room, cocking an eyebrow as he pulled a chair out for him. He sat down, with Erik quickly sitting across from him.
Erik watched Charles happily lift spoonful after spoonful into his mouth. “So Professor, what are we going to teach at our new school? I think we should officiate it, especially since we’re starting on Thursday for reals.”
“For reals, Erik? I think you’ve been around Emmett too much,” Charles laughed in between spoon-fulls. “I was initially planning on all the regular classes – we want them to get a regular education.” He paused for another spoonful. “But I think given certain circumstances, we should also provide some sort of personal defense training.”
“Sorry, didn’t catch that last part,” Erik aid with a curl to his lip.
“I was wondering if…maybe you’d consider…teaching some foreign languages…” he mumbled, quickly shoving more soup into his mouth.
The other man laughed as Charles became suddenly transfixed with the floor. “Did you really think I’d say no?”
He continued looking down at the floor. “Well I just thought that maybe you’d think…” he trailed off.
“O, Charles…” Erik reached his hand across, wrapping the telepath’s hand in his own. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t teach it.”
When Charles looked up, he was met with a grin so wide, it was an accomplishment even for Erik.
Erik didn’t let go of Charles hand until he finished his soup. “Well, Vicar, since you are starting school in only a couple days, it’d probably be best if you weren’t sick for that. I’d suggest you get some rest.”
Charles raised an eyebrow for the umpteenth time that week.
By the time Thursday rolled around, Charles was all well as far as health was concerned. The mansion was as ready as it would ever be. Erik couldn’t be more excited. He didn’t know when Charles’s dream had morphed into one of his own, but he was – dare he say – happy about it. The soft side of Erik was excited for household of baby mutants run by him and Charles.
What’s happening to me?
The question only put a bigger smile on his face.
“So, what is going on in that pretty little mind of yours now?” Erik was brought out of trance when Charles tapped on his shoulder.
“Mm’ nothin’,” he said pulling Charles next to him on the chair. “Just really happy.”
Charles placed the back of his hand on Erik’s forehead. “You don’t seem to have a fever, you sure you’re alright?” Charles said, a smile plastered on his face.
“So. You ready to start the beginning of our lives?”
Charles snorted. “Did that just come out of your mouth?” Erik didn’t respond. “Though, I suppose, it really is the rest of my life, isn’t it? I mean, even if the kids grew up and leave – will they want to leave? But either way, there will always be more coming, right? So, there’s no turning back now, is there?”
“Listen to yourself liebe. This is what you’ve always wanted. Teaching mutants. Teaching them to accept themselves. Are you really second guessing that?”
Charles took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “No you’re right, of course you’re right.” He rested his head on Erik’s shoulder. “Thank you, for…making me go through that now…it was only a matter of him before…I had my doubts, so…that-you for that.” The telepath gave a weak smile. “But if I did, ever doubt myself again, you’d be there. Right?”
“You’re not going to get rid of me that easy.” Erik paused. “You know, sometimes I don’t want to know what goes on in that head of yours.” Charles rolled his eyes.
“The only thing that goes on in here,” he tapped his temple, “that should dare concern you, is how much I love you.”
“Awwww. How disgustingly sweet.” The two men looked over to the doorway, seeing Raven – in blonde persona – standing there. “You-know-who is here.” Raven walked out of the room.
“You ready for this?”
“Let’s find out.”
Much to Charles’s relief, all went well with Jean’s parents. All the boys had behaved (thankfully). Raven was thankful to not being the only girl anymore. And Jean; she was happy to finally be accepted.
John and Elaine Grey weren’t lied to, but they weren’t told the full truth either. They knew it was a School for Gifted Youngsters, they just didn’t know how gifted these youngsters really were. They said their goodbyes to Jean and arranged to pick her up for summer break.
Jean happily settled into her room, finally feeling comfortable. Charles was more than excited to start training a telepath. However, Erik, was in mixed feelings, mainly because Jean was reminding him too much of Anya.
Charles was more than excited for today. He had spent the past week training with Jean, but today he was showing his favorite of all Hank’s inventions. His giddiness was obviously showing through.
“Are you really that excited to see me this morning?” Erik said entering the kitchen, the corner of his lips turned into a smirk.
“Hmm?” Charles murmured as he took a sip out of his tea. He glanced down at his feet and brought their tapping to a sudden halt. His lips formed the shape of an ‘O.’
Charles nodded. “I think it’ll be great for her to see what she can aspire to do. It’ll allow her to want to learn to control her power, knowing that someday she could use something as powerful as Cerebro. I might even let her…”
Erik gave a loud, forced sigh, rolling his eyes. “Raven may have dealt with your long professor-y ramblings, but I have no tolerance for it.”
The only response Charles could give was a small chuckle. “I can’t wait til you find something you’ll want to talk about for hours, my friend.”
“The day that happens, I promise you, I will begin caring about your little lesson plan woes. However, up until that day, you can keep it inside,” he said light heartedly.
Before Charles had a chance to respond, Alex and Sean came stumbling into the kitchen, tripping over each other’s feet in laughter. Charles sent Erik a mental eyebrow raise.
“And then the way he just…and then she…” Alex slurred in-between laugh fits. Sean responded with a melody of laughs and snorts.
“I feel there’s an explanation needed here,” Charles interrupted the laugh fest.
“O…crap.” Alex muttered under his breath.
“What?” Sean asked cluelessly.
Alex slowly lifted one hand and pointed toward their parental figures.
“O! Great!” Sean said; clapping his hands together. “Hey Prof! You should’ve seen it! Raven was talking to Jean, and then Hank was standing in the...”
“Sean,” Alex gritted out softly.
“Oh no, that’s alright Alex. I think Charles and I are quite interested in hearing the rest of this story,” Erik said, making quick eye contact with Charles.
“Thank-you Erik,” Sean replied, seeming proud to be acknowledged. “Gosh Alex, you really never let me finish or say any of our stories do you? Like the one last week? When we were practicing out by the fountain? You specifically told me to never mention anything to Mom and Dad…”
Alex brought the palm of his hand up to his face.
“Right um, so what happened exactly between Raven, Hank, and Jean?” Charles asked, trying to get to the point.
“Oh, So Jean and Raven were having a bonding talk, and then Hank came storming in rambling something about feelings, and baby, and always being there for her. And the best part was that the whole times he was staring at the floor!” Sean stopped for a laughing break. “So he practically, finally, announced his love for Raven, and Jean had to witness the whole. Thing. Poor girl… Best part was the color he turned. Man…it’s like no shade of blue or pink you’ve ever seen before!”
Alex refused to make eye contact with either of the two older men in the room.
“I think, Raven even had tears in her eyes! Don’t you think so Alex?”
Charles’ jaw dropped. “Umm…I think I have someone…I need to go talk…to.” He walked out of the room with Erik trailing close behind.
Charles found Raven in the only place he would have thought to look. Up on the third floor of the mansion, behind the curtains of the window at the end of the long hallway. It had been the only place deemed safe back during the days of Kurt Marko.
Raven, in the state she was, reminded Charles of the 8-years-old he initially knew. But Raven wasn’t that little girl anymore. She was a full grown, pregnant adult. Physically. Mentally – no matter how much she’d refuse it – she was that little 8-year-old who needed her big brother.
“Hey,” Charles whispered softly. He squeezed in behind the curtain next to her, noticing now how much easier it had been when they were how much smaller. Had it really been that long ago?
Natural instinct allowed Raven to rest her head on Charles’ shoulder. He allowed her to stay there for a while before initiating conversation. “I don’t know what any of your thoughts are on this situation, but I can only imagine how hard this was for Hank. He’s not the best when it comes to feelings.” He could feel the small twitch on the corner of her mouth. “And, I don’t know if you want him to, but there’s something about Hank that makes me think that’d held make a wonderful substitute father.”
Raven lifted her head. “I don’t doubt that. I’d love him to…oh…it’s just,” she made a loud sigh and buried her face back into her brother’s shoulder.
Charles unconsciously rubbed her arm. “It’s just what?”
She made a soft ‘mmph’ into his shoulder. “I don’t know, it’s just, I want my kid to always have that full family structure I never had…not that you weren’t…” She quickly tried to bite back on any second meanings she may have unintentionally implied.
“O, I take no offense.” Charles reassured. “And you know…hey…” he said picking up her face, forcing her to look at him. “You know, there will always be someone here. And even if something were to happen…to you or Hank, you know Erik and I would never let any…”
“Unless it calls me Charlie. Then this all goes out the window.” That was luckily enough to put a smile on her face.
“So what now?”
“Now I think you go to talk to Hank.”
Erik thought he’d allow Charles and Raven some bonding time, so instead of following Charles like a guard dog, he stayed on the first floor and headed towards the lab – the only place he could possibly imagine finding Hank at a moment like this.
Using his powers, Erik unlocked the door and pushed it open. Inside, Hank was quickly scurrying around the room, sharply turning when Erik opened the door, sending sheets of paper everywhere.
“What do you…uh…why are you here?” Instead of answering him verbally, Erik just kept a firm gaze on the blue mutant. “Oh, right. Ummm…in all fairness, I think she likes me too.”
Erik rolled his eyes. At that, Hank pretended to forget Erik’s presence. He continued to shuffle around the lab, paper being thrown aimlessly. The older mutant continued to watch the show, until after few moments, he spoke up. “You know, you did the right thing…” The sound of his voice was immediately followed by more papers thrown into the air.
“If I did the right thing, then why’d she run away crying?” Hank practically snapped, slouching into a nearby chair. Erik grabbed another chair and straddled it backwards in front of the boy.
“And what makes you think that they weren’t tears of relief?”
“I just…uh…I just…” Hank mumbled, getting much softer. “I just wish it was as easy for us as what you and Charles have.”
Erik gave a soft chuckle and quickly pulled it back. “You think what Charles and I have was easy?” he asked, grinning inwardly at himself.
“You two just seem so perfect together…I just wish…”
“Oh, my boy, you have a lot to learn.”
Hank looked up at him. “But you guys have been together since the beginning…it’s just…”
“You think Charles and I have been together this whole time?” Erik laughed at the thought of it.
“Well, yeah…wait. You haven’t?”
The older mutant chuckled again. “Nope. Not ‘til after Cuba. Remember the night after Charles sent me away?”
Hank nodded, his eyes then growing at realization. “But…that’s right before you told us. You guys didn’t even hide? Not for a little bit?”
Erik’s face quickly became more solemn. “We have no reason to hide, Hank.” Hank quickly nodded and turned his gaze towards the floor. “Hey, just a little reminder, you did do the right thing. It may take some time, but she’ll come around.”
Erik felt an unfamiliar swell in his chest.
He kinda liked it.
Right outside the lab, Charles stood slouched against the wall – a smile plastered on his face.
He heard all of it. Erik’s support. Hank’s calling of Erik his father. All of it.
He wished the world could see this side of Erik Lehnsherr. Not the harsh, cold-hearted murder. The soft, fun-loving, father figure.
Charles needed to hurry up on his project.
“Alright, so, Jean, today I wish to show you what you can aspire to. Hank designed this for me. I use it to amplify my power, so I can find people.”
“Who are we going to try and find today Professor?”
It had been well after lunch by the time Charles was ready to train with Jean. The two of them continued to walk down the long, desolate hallway, hidden deep under the Westchester Mansion. When they reached the end, Charles kneeled down and stayed eye level with the center of the X on the wall. Suddenly a blue, laser-like, light flashed out, scanning his eye. After a moment, Charles stood up, and the X on the wall opened into a large, sphere room.
“If I tell you, you have to promise to not tell a soul.” Charles said cheerfully as they entered the room.
Jean nodded her head immediately, grinning from ear to ear. “Alright.” Charles said as he picked up the helmet, placing it on his head. “Now, I must tell you, that the mutants I am looking for are very important. Oh. And they’re twins.” Jean’s eyes grew wide. “Okay, so, if you don’t mind, could you please flick that switch…”
“You do realize what Friday is, don’t you?”
Erik looked up from the book in his hand to see Raven leaning in the frame of the door. “Should I?”
“Wow, Charles really is to selfless for his own good. Friday is March 23rd.”
“March 23rd as in Charles Francis Xavier’s Birthday.”
Erik started to mouth inaudible words, “…it’s his…” and then he trailed off. He finished up with a nice, “oh.”
“And I know that since he’s full of himself, you don’t know what to get him. And well, I was going to give it to him, but I really think it’d be better if you did. I found it while I was cleaning…and well, here. I’ll just give it to you.” She walked forward and handed Erik a small box.
Erik opened it up. Inside was an old, beaten up copy of T.H. White’s A Once and Future King. “I…I don’t understand?”
Raven gave a small, solemn smile. “It’s not my story to tell, but I do promise it means a lot to him. Can you just please promise me that you’ll give it to him?”
Erik slowly nodded his head, still in shock that it was this book, of all books, that meant something to Charles.
“Thank-you.” Raven whispered softly as she left the library. She wasn’t even halfway down the hallway when Charles contacted her.
I need your help.
Raven stood there shocked. Charles never asked for help. What do you need?
On Friday, could you please pick up some mutants for me?
Please don’t ask questions Raven… he sounded almost…jittery.
Alright. Where do I have to go?
You don’t need to do anything, I’ve already contacted the orphanage… you just have to go and pick them up, alright?
O, and Raven?
Can you not mention any of this to Erik?
When Friday came around, Charles made no mention to anyone that it was his birthday, not even Erik. He didn’t want people to feel like they were required to do anything for him. But secretly, deep down, he was heartbroken that no one remembered anyways.
It was for this reason that Charles found himself sitting alone on the ground, damp from freshly melted snow, next to the Mansion’s lake, by the tree his father used to read to him by. His real father. The one before the days of Kurt Marko.
“Raven told me I might find you here.” Charles looked up to see Erik standing over him, a gift in his hand. “Did you really think I’d let your birthday go unacknowledged?”
The thought of it alone made Charles smile. Erik sat down next to Charles and leaned against the tree. He handed him the wrapped box.
“You didn’t have to…”
“Shut up Charles and open it.”
It was little phrases like that that made his chest burst.
He pulled off the simple bow Erik had tied around the box. When he pulled off the cover, his large grin on his face dropped. “I don’t under…
“Raven found it when we were cleaning through the mansion.”
Charles lips quivered as they formed the shape of an O. “My dad…he used to read it to me…before he died. Actually right here, by this tree.”
A little bit of Erik broke right then. It hurt to think of Charles – innocent, perfect Charles – deprived of anything. Erik had always assumed Charles had had a perfect childhood. Recent events were beginning to cause doubt towards his earlier accusation.
“Have you read it?” Charles asked, gesturing to The Once and Future King.
‘Only a thousand times,’ he wanted to respond, or ‘That book was my saving grace.’ The only word he could manage was, “Yes.”
“It’s one of my favorites.”
“Mine too.” Charles beamed up at him, and then rested his head against his arm.
“Power is of the individual mind, but the mind’s power is not enough…” Charles trailed off.
“Power of the busy decided everything in the end, and only Might is Right.” Erik finished for him. The glint in those unholily blue eyes made Erik melt.
Erik, could you be a doll, and bring me my tea?
If only Charles knew that Erik had already made the god-forsaken tea. If only he knew that Erik was currently heading to their room with the tea in his hands.
Scratch that. The bloody telepath probably already did know.
When Erik reached the door, he opened it using his powers, not wanting to spill a single drop of tea. He proceeded into the room.
The o-so-special cup of tea was suddenly implanted into the carpeted floor.
In front of him, Charles Xavier sat in his normal chair.
He had two barely 5-year-old children crawling on top of him.
“Erik! I’d like you to meet Wanda and Pietro Maximoff.”
Sorry my updating has been so shakey...everytime I actually have time, i get a stupid 502 or whatever...:)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Max Eisenhardt had grown up his first years of life with some of the most loving parents any kid could ever dream of. They did all their work at work, never home; spent every holiday – birthday’s included – with them; and taught him and his siblings the simple necessities of life like bike riding. Max was 11 when any hopes of continuing this ideal life was crushed.
A single man – Sebastian Shaw – defined the life that Max had yet to live. The eleven-year-old was quickly split from his family to be put in the care of Shaw during the Jewish concentration camps. After witnessing his mother be shot before his eyes, young Max spent the rest of his years trying to resurface any metal manipulating powers that he had had. He was unable to do so through many years, much to Shaw’s displeasure.
On one of Max’s sneak outs for food, he ran into a friend from his long-since-forgotten childhood – Magda, a young Gypsy girl. By the time the camps were liberated, not only had he saved Magda from the gas chambers, but from being executed by gun fire as well. Not long after the camps, the two were married and had a daughter named Anya.
In hopes of fitting in with Magda’s people, Max Eisenhardt changed his name to Erik Lehnsherr. Many of the people they lived with knew of the two being Holocaust survivors, but none of them knew of the life of Max Eisenhardt.
The family soon moved to Soviet Russia in hopes of an easier life. Everything was normal until the day Erik snapped when his boss cut him short of his pay check, manifesting his mutant powers that hadn’t been exposed since the early days of the camps. By the time Erik came home, he found officers called in by his boss outside the currently burning down inn they had been staying at. Magda was safe on the ground, but Anya was in the upper-floor window surrounded by flames. Erik attempted to use his newly rediscovered powers to save his daughter’s life. Instead he was held back by the officers and forced to watch his daughter fall out of the window and burn to death. Horrified by Erik’s powers, Magda left him, not telling him of the two twins growing inside her.
Erik Lehnsherr spent the next few years of his life hunting down the ones who had taken all that he loved from him. The guards that shot his family. The guard who laughed at him each time Erik was forced to eat the rotten bread off the floor. The officer that rounded him from his home. The one who threatened to shoot Magda. All wile while hunting down Sebastian Shaw - the one who truly made his life a living-hell.
And then a cheeky British-American pulled him out of the water.
“Erik, I’d like you to meet Wanda and Pietro Maximoff.”
Erik looked down and watched as the spilt tea seeped further into the carpet, trying his hardest to ignore the two squirming beings on Charles’ lap.
“They’re quite adorable aren’t they?” he heard Charles say. He looked up to see him pinching the girl’s cheeks.
“Charles…” It came out at a much lower growl than intended.
The telepath seemed oblivious to any disapproving noises Erik would make. “Pietro definitely has your face structure, but little Wanda here is the lucky one, getting your eyes and all…”
“Charles, I feel like I’m mis-”
“And it appears she got your hair too! If they didn’t look so much like you, I don’t know if Raven would have even known which ones to pick up from the orphanage…”
“Charles…” Erik watched as Charles’ pristine smile faltered ever so slightly. He followed the telepath’s gaze to see the metal lamp in the corner’s disfigured appearance.
“Oh. Wanda, Pietro, it looks like I need to talk to your father for a little bit. Would you mind leaving the room for a few minutes?”
The two kids eagerly nodded their heads and scampered out the door, just as the realization hit Erik.
The metalbender’s visitor went fuzzy on the edges and tunneled into blackness.
Charles quickly spun around to see an unconscious Erik face down on the carpet. He skidded down onto his knees to Erik’s side. “Erik?!?” he screeched in a high voice that he’s never admit to making. He grasped onto Erik’s shoulder and flipped him face up only to be greeted by a face full of blood. “Oh my god, Erik?”
Much to the telepath’s relief, Erik’s eyes flickered open. “Oh, thank god,” was all he could manage before burying his face into his chest. “Darling, I think you nose is broken…” he half laughed, half sobbed.
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall…” Erik chocked out.
Charles slapped him on the shoulder, and pushed himself up into a standing position. “I think we should get you cleaned up,” he suggested with a hand outstretched towards Erik.
“Alright…” he said, taking the hand in front of him and following him into the adjoined bathroom.
By the time Erik made it into the bathroom, Charles had somehow already managed to dampen a washcloth so he could apply it directly to his face the exact moment he walked into the door. Charles immediately began dabbing it onto the still fresh blood on his friend's face.
Erik glanced over at the image set for him in the mirror. Charles standing on his tip-toes, trying to stay eye-level, a glistening red washcloth in his hands. Erik nose was in a position he tried to not let his eyes linger on for too long. If you could get over the bloody and guts of it all, it was rather domestic.
"I think I got it all," Charles said, finally standing flat on his feet again. He walked over the sink and began rinsing out the washcloth. Erik sat down on the edge of the tub and rested his head on his hands. After a few minutes, Charles sat down next to Erik, being as close as physically possible without actually sitting on his lap.
"There really mine?" Charles gave a cautious nod. "But, when? ...how?"
"Something tells me you know how..." Charles said as a week attempt to lighten the mood.
Erik only responded with a glare. "You know that's not what I meant... It's just, do you know anything about the mother?"
"I know that the birth certificates had Magda Lehnsherr on the mother's line..."
Erik tensed even more next to him, if that was possible. "But she left...we never...she didn't tell me..."
Charles threw an arm around Erik's shoulder, and turned his head so he could lean his forehead on Erik's. "Listen to me. I don't know what happened between you and Magda. And I don't want to know until you're ready to tell me. But even if she never did tell you, and left you, you need to look at the bright side of things. You're here, with all of us, Shaw is gone, and now you've been blessed with two wonderful children who are open to loving you. You need to forget whatever has gone on in the past, and worry about now. All of us, me included, are going to be here for you. We can raise Wanda and Pietro with the others, make up for anything else they've gone through. But first you need to trust me, and go and talk to the two of them."
Erik stayed still for a second, and then slowly nodded.
"But maybe we should have Hank look at your nose first."
Erik nodded again.
"Come on, let's go get that nose looked at." Charles jumped up a little too enthusiastically, and nearly galloped out the door. Erik didn't even budge, but instead decided to stay with his face buried in his hands. When Charles realized Erik wasn't following him, he slowly appeared in the doorway again. "Erik?"
"She must have been just pregnant with them, when Anya died...and then she left...so she didn't tell me..." Charles took his spot back next to Erik's side. "And alright, she didn't tell me. But then she ditches them? Sends them into the orphanage? What mother can do that to a child? Their child?"
"And, sure. I get it, she has all right to get up and leave because of my powers. But you don't ditch your own children. I don't care what you think is wrong with them, they're your children. You don't send them to...it’s not a good place...and she knows that it's...god damn it! She knows firsthand what goes on there! They’re her children..." the rage was practically bubbling through Erik's ears. He attempted to take a deep breath. "Come on, let go to Hank..." he growled, stood up and headed towards the door.
"Erik." Charles stood up and walked over to where Erik was standing. He pulled the taller man down into a deep hug. "I love you."
After a moment, Erik reciprocated the hug. "Thank-you," he said, looking Charles directly in the eyes. Both of them had a slight red tint to the corner of their eyes.
"Gosh, when did we become so bloody emotional...?"
"When did you become so bloody British?"
"Let's go get fix that nose," he said through a smile, offering Erik a hand.
Erik sat on the raised doctor's table, his legs hung over the side, nose firmly back in place. He shifted his gaze around the room until his eyes met Charles'.
"Right, so, um...I'm going to go now..." Hank muttered as he backed out of the room.
"I'm sorry, if I would have just told you like a normal person, then none of this would have happened..." Charles rambled, pacing back and forth on a line.
"I should have waited, or at least told you first, or..."
"Charles, I want to..."
"I should have told you...god, I'm an idiot..."
"Charles." He said it firmly enough to get Charles out of his rant. "I want to meet my kids."
"I know, and you have every right to be...wait. What?"
"I want to meet my kids."
"Raven, if Erik and I could have and minute with the two?" Charles asked when they made it to the room Raven was watching Wanda and Pietro in.
"O, yeah. Of course." Raven happily got up and left the room.
And then there were four.
"I'll give you three a minute..." Charles said grinning widely and exiting the room.
And then there were three.
Erik stood there, jaw gaped, unsure what to do or say next.
"So! You're our dad?" a too happy, high pitch, innocent voice asked.
It was that moment the Erik melted into two.
He collapsed down onto his knees and had an armful of giggles in a matter of seconds. These were his children. Right here. Alive and unscarred. Immune to everything happening around them. Leaving and breathing right before his eyes. He began tearing up for at least the third time that day.
"Are you alright Vati?" Pietro asked.
"Look! He's crying! Vati? Are you hurt?" Wanda shrieked with a touch of worry.
Vati? Erik tried to choke out.
"O, my Lieblings, these are tears of joy." Erik chuckled, feeling more elated than he thought was humanly possible.
"You're happy?" Wanda asked.
"I'm very happy."
"I'm very happy too!" Pietro cheered jumping on Erik, tumbling him over onto his back. The two children were climbing on top of him as if he were a jungle-gym.
Erik couldn't bring himself to care.
Outside the door, Charles couldn't find a reason to remove the smile from his face, knowing that he gave Erik this moment of peace.
When Charles went to his room that night for bed, he opened the door to find the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. On the bed, Erik was sound asleep, half propped up on the head board by pillows. On each side of him there was a bundle of little person snugged up right to him. His arms made a tight loop around the two five-year-olds, holding them close. One of his hands had a loose grip on a book that's pages continued to slowly turn back and forth.
Charles quietly changed into his pajamas in the dim lighting of the room. He walked over to the bed and picked up the book off the bed, closing it, then setting it on the bedside table. When he went to lay down, he was thankful Erik had thought it through far enough to pull the blankets down before laying on the bed. Charles turned off the lamp on the wall and laid down next to Erik, Wanda, and Pietro, pulling the sheet and comforter over all of them.
Charles tried his hardest to be quiet as he settled in, but he still managed enough noise to wake Erik. It may have been the feelings of contentness that were rolling off of him, but Charles could see Erik's smile in the blackness of the room.
Erik slid down off the head board and shrugged the covers down a little. He then moved Pietro from the outer edge of the bed to in-between Charles and himself next to Wanda. Charles offered his help by pulling the blankets back over the four of them.
Instinctively, Erik and Charles both moved closer to the center of the bed, surrounding the five-year olds with more than just their physical presence, but with their love too.
Neither Erik nor Charles spoke a word to each other that night, but it wasn't that hard to tell what the other was thinking.
For one moment, everything was perfect. Unfortunately, that's when thing tend to go rotten.
Charles woke up to bright sunlight, bird's chirping, three other beings in his bed, and Erik's smile. It was that exact moment that Raven's voice rang through his head.
He nearly fell out of bed by the shriek in her voice.
"Charles...are you alr-"
He held up a finger in Erik's direction for quiet.
Raven, if you could explain a little quieter...
She's here Charles... even through his head Raven sounded breathless.
"Who's here Raven?" Charles asked, unknowing that he was speaking aloud.
The only message he got from Raven was an image through her eyes.
"Emm- Frost? Frost is here?"
It was Erik's turn to fall out of the bed, earning wide eyes from Wanda and Pietro. Erik's eye glistened with something that Charles had never hoped to see again. He immediately stood up and bolted to the door. Luckily Charles thought faster and was already blocking the doorway.
"You need to calm your mind."
"It'd be best for you to get out of my way."
"Erik, please, just-"
"...Vati?" Both of the older mutants looked down to see the twins attached to Erik's ankles. "Mr. Charles?"
Erik fell down to the twins sides and pulled them into a hug. "I'm sorry...sor-so sorry..." he muttered into their ears. The two giggled, only knowing the difference between happy and sad Erik, clueless to any other harm in the world.
Charles took the moment as an opportunity to exit the room and see their visitor without a cranky Erik.
When Emma walked out the front door, Raven slumped down into the nearby couch, letting out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. Hank sat down next to her on the couch, while Alex, Sean, and Emmett found other various surfaces to through themselves on in the room.
"Raven, I thought you said she was here?" all the children turned to see Charles just through the doorway.
"I don't follow..."
Next thing he knew he was caught up in Raven's memories. Emma Frost appearing in the distance, completely dressed in white. Raven called out to Charles. By the time she was at the main stairs of the mansion, all the kids were braced themselves, hoping they could take anything she'd throw at them.
She opened the door and walked in as if it were her own home. She gave one strong look at Raven's stomach, which was showing quite a bit these days, and tsked. "Pregnant? During these times? That's not going to be good in the end run..."
Hank and Alex grabbed Raven by the arms as she attempted to lunge forward. "You. Don't. Know. Anything," she hissed, still struggling in their grip.
Emma stood unabashed and staring at her nails, appearing nearly bored.
"If you children would be ever so kind to give this to the telepath, it'd be greatly appreciated," she said, hand throwing a thick envelope onto the coffee table.
"And what makes you think that we should..."
The White Queen held up one hand, spun around, and walked out of the door.
Charles was brought back to the present with the same thick envelope held out in front of him.
"You should probably look at whatever that is with Erik. Just as a suggestion," Raven said with a hand on his shoulder.
"Look at what with me?"
Erik stood behind Charles, breath hot in his ear. He spun around to see a child perched on each hip. Jean was following behind him, looking as if she'd been woken up and dragged out of bed.
Charles grabbed Wanda out of Erik's grasp and carried her over to Raven, Erik following close behind with Pietro. "Would you mind keeping an eye on these two for a while?"
Raven nodded as he heard Sean mumble, "Whoa...who are they? Why do they look like Magneto...?" in the background.
"Thank-you," Erik said as he followed Charles out of the room.
"Care to explain who these two are?" Alex asked Raven.
"This is Wanda and Pietro Maximoff."
"And what are they doing here?" Hank asked.
"They're Erik's children."
The others were quiet for quite some time.
"Oh," Emmett supplied.
Erik sped-walked to catch up with Charles down the hallway, and followed him into the study.
"I thought Frost was here?"
"She was. She's left now." Something in Erik's eyes made it look like he was ready to walk out the door and find her that exact moment. "She's long gone Erik. It's no use to try and go and find her."
Erik sighed and sat down in his usual chair. "So what are we supposed to look at then?"
"This," Charles said, plopping the envelope down on the table where the chess set normally resided.
"Any idea on what's in it?"
"We're not going to know unless we open it."
They both leaned in towards the table, as if they were contemplating a chess move. A very important chess move that, for all they knew, could affect the lives of everyone in the household.
"We should open it," Erik said. Charles nodded.
Charles leaned forward even further and grabbed the envelope. He licked the tip of his finger and began slowly opening it. He pulled out a stack of about 10 sheets of paper. The top was a letter. He read it aloud -
"Dear Mr. Xavier,
I feel it would only be kind of me to let you in on my little secret, seeing as it more or less affects you directly.
Angel and I have been hard at work to begin recruiting a team of our own, seeing as your ideal plans are never going work. We have already gotten quite a few to see our side of things, and are more than willing to fight with us, but I feel now I'm just bragging.
Now to the purpose behind my letter. During one of our more recent invasions of the CIA, we discovered a system of cataloguing that may interest you. It seems the CIA has been keeping tabs on every mutant they know of. I have included the information they have on your fellow friends.
Seeing as Shaw always told us, "We mustn't harm our own kind," I found it in my duty to share this information with you.
The White Queen"
Choosing to not make another comment yet, Charles pulled out the other sheets of paper in the envelope. Each one of them had a sheet to their selves. He paged through the stack, glancing at the names. He slowly read them aloud to Erik.
"Charles Xavier. Erik Lehnsherr. Raven Darkholm. Hank McCoy. Sean Cassidy. Alex Summers. Emmett Farthing. Jean Grey..." he trailed off. Erik could clearly see that there were still two sheets of paper Charles hadn't read yet.
"No," he whimpered, barely louder than a whisper.
"Wanda Maximoff. Pietro Maximoff."
Charles bit on his bottom lip, scared to look up and see Erik's face. The thought hurt him enough. He couldn't imagine what was going on inside Erik's head.
"How can...how do they..." Erik started to mutter. "They've not been here 24 hours...how can they can they possibly..."
Charles couldn't find the heart to give Erik his predictions for the moment. All he could manage was a mumbled 'I don't know' every couple seconds. The two sat in their separate chairs, eyes locked in on various fixtures throughout the room.
Saying Erik was heartbroken was an understatement. Only two days ago he was childless. As of yesterday, not only was he once again a father, but he was a great father. His children knew nothing of him, and in under a few hours they were able to grow to love him. And he was able to return said love. And that act was becoming easier and easier. Something he wasn't sure what to think of quite yet.
Charles had his predictions. Ones he wasn't able to voice to Erik because he was afraid what would become of his words. Ones he was scared to even allow himself to think. Ones that questioned the trustworthiness of the source. Or rather, not so much the source, but more so the trustworthiness of the information. And not the information, but something along the lines of how the information was acquired. But he truly hoped his predictions were wrong.
However, he knew the longer he waited to announce them, the worst Erik could get.
But now really wasn't the time.
There are three types of hotels. The ones that don't care who you are, or how much drugs you smoke, and let you stay anyway. These hotels tend to be run down, unsanitary, and normally downright dangerous. Normally located in secluded places with poorly working lock systems.
There's also the ones that families use. The places that are safe, cozy, and acceptable enough for their lower-end price. These are the ones that have continental breakfasts, friendly room service people, and swimming pools. And loud children.
And then there's this place.
This villa that costs thousands of dollars a night. This villa that has enough rooms for ten people, even though there are only two of them. This villa that has a full kitchen, even though everyone who will ever stay in it is rich enough to just get room service. This villa that has a service person on call at every second of every day.
All of it was something Angel could never get used to.
Alright, even though Emma wasn't even paying for it, Angel knew that if the CIA had refused to, she would have done it herself. It's just the kind of person Emma was.
- They had barely done anything since Janos and Azazel had left. And now with Janos dead, and Azazel off on his own, there was only Angel left for Emma to bitch at. Which definitely had more disadvantages than advantages.
Though now the letter had been sent to Charles, so hopefully she'll start doing something besides watching Emma ‘The Ice Queen’ Frost tidy her nails.
Providing The Prof falls for it, which Angel knows he won't. She knows how smart the man is, and he most certainly isn't dumb. He'll suspect something at the very least. She'd be crazy to think any of this near Emma of course. She's not as trustworthy when it comes to privacy of thoughts like Charles always was.
How utterly thoughtful of you.
This is of course the time that Charles chooses to contact her.
How utterly thoughtful of you.
Cerebro ll was bigger and better than its predecessor. Not only was it huge and more comfortable, but it was sleek, shiny, and unbelievably modern.
It hadn't been hard to locate Angel, for she was only a few miles out of Langley, Virginia, and that fact alone confirmed some of his worst of suspicions.
Please don't overreact, I'd just like to ask you a few questions, and judging by those last few thoughts I accidentally picked up on, I have feeling you won't mind answering.
Charles felt her mental nod.
He quickly reached out for other people near Angel, most specifically a certain telepath, relieved to find no one in the area.
I'm going to try something Angel. It may take a lot of strain on my part, but I think it'd be for the best. I'd like you to stay where you are, and just trust me.
Another mental nod.
It took most to all the strength Charles had, but from the domed room in Westchester, New York, he reached out with as much force to the hotel in Virginia. Thinking soft, calm thoughts -- in an attempt to cause Angel as little pain as possible -- the wrapped himself around her brain. With even more strength, he projected an image of himself into her brain. More than an image. A 3-dimensional hologram of sorts of himself. The little strength he had left was used to hold this image as he sat down on the couch across from Angel in one of the many sitting rooms.
"Now I don't know how long I can hold this, so we must be quick, but..."
Angel's eyes grew huge. "How are you right there?"
"I'm working on expanding my range and capabilities, though they're nowhere near as strong as I'd like..."
"Charles! Quit being modest! You're freakin' amazing!"
Charles gave a soft, nervous chuckle. "Alright, I suppose. Though, if we could get off the topic of me, and get to my questions while I'm still here..."
Angel appeared to be suddenly more nervous. "Uh, yeah. Sure. What'd you want to know?" Charles could feel the guilt rolling off her in tidal waves.
"Um, let's just get straight to it...was the letter we received today bait?"
Angel in took a deep breath and whispered bellow her breath, "Yes."
"And you guys are working for the CIA,"
"And they asked you to send it to us?"
"But all the information is stuff they actually have."
"Yes, but Professor..." Charles held up a hand for her to stop.
"I don't need any excuses, because I do not blame you. However severely disappointed I am in you, I do not blame you."
"It was the only way they'd let us stay free. Or at least free to some degree. They let Emma go if she worked for them, and Emma quickly found Azazel, Janos, and myself. The CIA didn't trust you guys off on your own. They proposed the letter to bring you to them. And Professor, Moria...she..."
"Has fed them all the information on us, yes, I know. Except for Wanda and Pietro. That was Emma I presume."
Angel warily nodded. "...I swear, if I knew they were...I would have never..."
"I need you to understand, that I still lay no blame on you." Charles gave a wince and massaged a finger on his temple.
Angel rushed to his side, "Are you alright?"
"I'm...fine. It's just a lot of strain..."
"Here let me..." She moved to help Charles' headache, only for her hand to go straight through the projection.
Charles gave another shaky laugh, "Well apparently that's not going to work quite yet...I'm sorry Angel, but I think I've over-stayed my brain's capacity, but I thank-you for answering my questions and..."
Charles had a hard worked look on his face, "I'm sorry but I must be..."
"...I want to come back," Angel whispered as Charles' image slowly disappeared.
When Charles woke, it was dark out the window, and he was piled under his comforter. He couldn't have been asleep long enough for it to be night, so he only figured that it was ironically raining.
As he began to open his eyes, he saw Hank sitting in the corner of the room, though as Hank noticed Charles' stirring, he darted out of his chair. Then down the hallway yelling what suspiciously sounded like, "Erik! He's awake!"
He couldn't have been out that long, could he?
But before he could even ponder on the thought, his bed was filled with one very large person, and two very small persons. His room was filled with even more. Both Wanda and Pietro were jumping on the bed, excitement radiating off their faces. Erik's face was filled with what was more relief. As for the other beings in his room, Charles could see none of them. The three Lehnsherrs made sure that they were the only ones getting full attention.
"How long have I..."
"Nearly two days," he heard Hank pipe up from somewhere in the background.
The telepath attempted to make eye contact with the furry blue mutant, but his line of sight was compromised by a very distressed looking metal-bender.
"Are you alright?" he asked, almost sounding like he didn't know the answer.
" 'm fine..." Charles responded as he attempted to push himself up into a sitting position.
"I don't think so..." Erik quickly said, pushing him back down. "What happened? The last time I saw you we were reading the letters, and then next thing I know, we found lying unconscious in Cerebro, and..."
"I think most of these answers must wait for a later date..."
"Does it have to do with...?"
Charles nodded warily, "Can you trust me on this one?"
With what looked like it took a lot more effort than necessary, Erik forced a nod of agreement. He got up out of the bed, and moved out of the way for Hank to come over, taking Wanda and Pietro with him.
"Alright, now Charles, I'm just going to run a few simple tests to make sure everything is stable..."
It wasn't until later that night when Charles was actually able to talk to Erik. Not that he was looking forward to it. Erik wasn't one who responded nicely to that sort of thing.
So Charles took notice to not try and bring it up. But of course the same couldn't be said for Erik. Who was currently staring Charles down, after asking one simple question.
"What were you doing?"
Charles took a deep breath and chose to start from the very beginning. "Well, when we first read the letter, I had my suspicions, and, well, I went to confirm them." Erik looked like he wanted to interrupt, but Charles quickly continued to prevent it. "And, I...I did. Confirm it, that is."
"And these suspicions were...?"
"The accuracy of the letter..." Charles muttered under his breath.
"The WHAT?!?" Charles didn't like where Erik's tone was going.
"I didn't exactly trust Emma..." This obviously didn't make Erik any happier.
"And why didn't you tell me about your suspicions?"
"So in case they weren't true, you wouldn't react exactly the way you are now," he said trying to sound firm, yet not angry, but he failed miserably.
Erik gave a stressed sigh, trying to calm himself. "And what did you...find?"
"Emma and Angel are most definitely working for the CIA. The letter was a ruse. They still don't trust us out here on our own."
Everything thing metal in the room began to rattle. Probably everything metal in the house. The rage was just that strong.
"I need to go."
"Erik, no! You can't!"
"Charles, we can't let them control us like this. We can't let them think they can control us like this."
"You're running on rage right now. You need to calm down and rethink this."
"The longer I wait, the more time they have to plan their attack."
"If you wait, we can plan our strategy. We don't always have to resort to violence."
"Do you want them to come here? And harm the children? Because that's what going to happen if you wait!" Erik spun on his heels, and strode into the hallway.
"Erik!" Charles darted out the door, racing after Erik down the hallway. Erik only took it as incentive to quicken his pace.
Charles was still sprinting after him as Erik slammed the door leading out to the garage. The telepath braked on his heals before nearly slamming himself into the door. He flung the door open. "Erik! Please come back!"
But Charles was too late. There was an empty spot in the garage, the one where the motorcycle used to reside.
In the distance, a cloud of dust was slowly fading on the driveway.
The trees rolled on and on as far as the naked eye could see. Most of the trees had at least half their budding leaves. Some even appeared to have them all. Varied shades of green dotted the hillside.
But to Erik, they all appeared as a blur. He was going too fast.
The smart thing to have done, would have been to, at the very least, figured out a route. Then Erik wouldn't be going just to go. Going in the direction he saw fit.
But it did allow him to let off steam.
He couldn't have been out for over a few hours, but those few hours were enough. Enough to let him sit on his thoughts. To let him rethink what he said. What he meant. What he wants.
And he still didn't regret a thing.
Well maybe snapping at Charles, possibly. But the man was oblivious sometimes. He needed to realize that some things are for real. And Emma posed a real threat. She could singlehandedly destroy all the hopes Charles had of creating a school. Or a safe school at the least.
And she needed to be stopped.
Which is where Erik was headed.
To stop Emma.
He didn't how he'd do it.
But he'd figure out a way.
Charles stood in the doorway of the garage until all of the dirt had settled, still unsure of what just conspired.
He tried to reach his telepathic capabilities out to Erik, but was overwhelmed with emotion making him incapable. He began to chew on his bottom lip again, slowly pivoting on his heels with a light close of the door to the garage. He continued down the narrow hallway that led back into the kitchen.
Inside the main kitchen of the Xavier mansion, eight young mutants - most already at full maturity - stood still with their jaws at the ground.
"Did Erik just...?"
"Wait, where's he...?"
"What's going on?" Raven made her voice stand out above the rest of the people. "Did Erik just leave, Charles?"
The telepath ever-so-slightly nodded his head, still standing like a deer in headlights.
Thousands of questions a second were thrown across the room.
"Everyone. Shut. Up." Raven said, once again putting her voice out on top of the others. "Charles," she continued, walking towards him and putting her hands on his shoulders, "does this have to do with your recent little scare in Cerebro?"
Charles shrugged his shoulders and kicked at the ground. His eyes were fixed on the ground.
"Does it have to do with the letters?"
Charles shrugged his shoulders once more.
"Did you two fight?"
He continued to bite on his bottom lip, not even bothering to shrug his shoulders this time.
"My god, you two are so stubborn." She grabbed Charles by the elbow and dragged him out of the kitchen and into a sitting room, away from all of the others.
Raven shut the door and watched Charles trudge over to the couch like a lonely, lost puppy. He flopped onto his back like an undercooked pancake. He held a bent position that most would consider painful.
Raven sat on the edge of the couch, purposely invading Charles' personal space. "Start from the beginning."
Charles crossed his arms and let out a defiant huff.
"I'm not a telepath Charles, and when I'm determined, I get what I want. And right now, I am determined. So you may as well tell me." She was not going to get angry here.
The stubborn face Charles was trying to hold faltered for all of two seconds. In those two seconds, his face was one of such intense pain and sorrow, it hurt Raven to even try and recreate.
Raven took a deep breath, and allotted herself a second to start over and try again. "Please?"
The next sigh Charles gave was one of utter failure.
"So. You argued. And he left. Because you two don't agree. And Erik is overprotective. What else is new?"
Charles shook his head, clearly annoyed. "Now what am I supposed to do?"
"Let him let out some steam. Then he'll realize he's sickly in love with you. He'll turn around, beg you to let him back into your life. You'll blindly forgive him and all will be back to normal."
"Raven..." her brother responded, trying to ignore how /true/ her last answer was, "...but he, he... He sounded different this time. His tone, it was...it was real. Not that he wasn't /real/ before, but it was, almost like..." Charles started to trail of in thought. When he finally talked himself through it, he said, "It was the same tone he used when he told me he planned on killing Shaw."
That left Raven lost for words for a brief moment. "What do you want?"
"I think Emma definitely poses a threat, but I don't know what Erik plans, and..."
"I didn't ask what you think. I asked what you want."
"I want Erik to come back..."
"What do you want to happen to Emma?"
"I-I..." Raven watched as her brother curled into his own mental turtle shell of uncertainty.
Raven spoke as soft as possible. "You realize it's not good for us to have Emma around, correct?"
Charles cautiously poked his head out of his shell. His sky blue eyes looked lost in a world of pain. "I-I'm... Oh, god, Raven I'm scared..." His voice shook through multiple octaves. He threw his head onto Raven's shoulder. "Sh-she's so much more powerful, Raven. She knows so much... And if she tells it to them, Raven..." The telepath seemed stranded in a desert. His mind desperately reaching out for some sort of direction.
"If she keeps helping them, I think...I think I'm going to lose you. All you...and Raven? I-I can't...I don't think that I can..."
He continued to sob into her shoulder. The only gesture of comfort that Raven could find doable was a few pats on the shoulder. This wasn't her job. She was supposed to get this kind of attention from him. Charles didn't break down like this. And if he did... Well that was Erik's job to tend to.
"Please don't let that happen...don't let her ruin this...Raven, please..." his voice sounded like that of a wounded soldier.
"Charles," His named came out like a scratched record. "Charles, we won't let anything happen..."
Raven's eyes grew wide. "What?"
"Please, promise me that you won't let, that she won't, that she'll..."
Raven held up her hand to silence him. "I promise."
Her brother's next chuckle was a painful one.
It was raining in Virginia. Rain. The one thing Emma Frost couldn't stand. Or one of the things she couldn't stand. For reasons, of course.
One: It was wet. And wet things get other things wet. Like her clothes. And her hair. Both which would then have to be fixed sooner than later.
Two: It tended to come with thunder. Which was loud. Which destroyed her peacefulness.
Three: It tends to make others on edge. Especially on the road. Everyone seemed to be that much angrier at each, and that much more prone to overreact.
Of course one of these people was her own personal drivers, which brought reason number four.
But today was important. So, rain or no rain, she was going to make Tom drive her. She had no tolerance for any excuses regarding the rain.
It was already noon, not that the sky was much help to that. Last night Angel had seemed...off. Not as forgiving as normal, but Emma didn't plan on pondering it for too long. She had more important things to consider at the moment.
Emma had her whole spiel ready for the heads of CIA. If Xavier (or his pet, Lehnsherr, at least) hadn't reacted yet, then the letter probably went unnoticed. But that was only the beginning. Emma's next part would certainly get a rise out of the both of them. The whole group, preferably.
All she'd need was to get the two new young mutants into their custody. If that didn't get their attention, which it would, all she'd have to do is /pull a few strings/ and they'd be begging at her front door.
Of course, once Xavier and Lehnsherr were out of the picture, she'd mind-wipe her wait out of the CIA and continue on with Shaw's ideals.
She'd explain all her plans at the meeting today, and they'd never question her again.
Emma tried to keep her cool, but the angry thoughts coming from Tom were becoming too much.
Do try to calm yourself.
"These people don't know how to drive!"
The telepath didn't even let the shout faze her. Well tell them that, not me.
"And this stupid car keeps acting up!"
"Hm." She kept her eyes on her nails.
"The steering wheel is like jammed!" His hand jerked toward the gears. With each attempted shake, the stick refused to budge. "It's like...like something's hold it on place!"
Emma still didn't seem to notice.
Tom was obviously becoming more stressed than normal as he approached the red light.
When he began pumping the brakes, he finally grasped Emma's attention.
"WHAT do you think you're doing?!?" she screeched.
"I told you! I can't control the damn car! I swear something else is!"
"You're crazy! There's absolutely nothing that can..."
People say that, as you're dying, the things you see, are the things you love the most. The things that mean the most to you.
But it's all lies.
You're life doesn't flash before your eyes, but instead the last things your mind tries to grasp and make sense of. The things that try to explain what's going on. These are the things you see.
Emma heard Tom's consistent whining.
She heard the rain outside.
She saw the red light ahead.
Felt the car swerve.
Saw the tree ahead.
Felt the impact into said tree.
Felt the mind of another mutant.
A mutant she knew all too well.
One who obviously did react to her letter.
Then all went black.